While he wouldn’t comment on what he would have done had a similar bill reached his desk, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said Thursday that he congratulates Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer for her veto Wednesday of a bill that would have given business owners the right to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds.
“I tried to call her this morning to congratulate her on making a decision and to support her in the decision she made about Arizona,” Otter said. “I think that’s her prerogative, I think she did the right thing.”
But Otter declined comment on a question from KBOI-TV’s Scott Logan about whether he would have done the same thing had Boise GOP Rep. Lynn Luker’s House Bill 427 passed the Legislature and reached his desk.
“There are a lot of differences between Arizona and Idaho,” Otter said. “I’m not going to comment on that because I think we’ve got some other things in the works — especially in terms of lawsuits — on what I would or would not do.”
Otter is a defendant in a case filed in federal court in November by four Idaho lesbian couples seeking to overturn the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions.
Last week, Luker withdrew a bill mirroring the vetoed Arizona legislation, saying it was intended to protect the free exercise of religion, but was misinterpreted to be a “sword for discrimination.” A hearing on his measure lasted nearly four hours and drew hundreds to the Capitol, mostly opponents.
Luker says he respects concerns he heard and as a result plans to take more time to work on the bill, which he proposed in the wake of cases in Oregon and New Mexico where gay people who were refused service brought claims against businesses. The same examples were cited by lawmakers in Arizona.