Arizona lawmakers push anti-LGBTQ discrimination law
PHOENIX (AP) — A bipartisan group of Arizona lawmakers are again pushing a proposal that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity statewide despite repeated failures to even get a hearing because of opposition from social conservatives in the Legislature.
Republican Sen. Kate Brophy McGee and Democratic Rep. Daniel
Hernandez on Thursday called for passage of a measure they say is needed to assure LGBTQ residents get the same protections as other citizens. They were joined at a Capitol news conference by business and religious leaders who said it was needed to ensure equality and keep businesses competitive.
Neil Giuliano, president of the Greater Phoenix Leadership business group, said the state’s failure to have laws ensuring LGBTQ residents are treated equally is affecting hiring and efforts to attract business.
“Look at the states around us that are competing in this region — California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico. All of them already offer protection,” Giuliano said. “Arizona quite frankly needs to get with it, get on the program and do all we can with regard to talent acquisition and with regard to competitiveness for our business sector.”
That, however, is easier said than done. Similar legislation failed to even get a hearing in the Republican-controlled Legislature the past two sessions, and faces strong opposition from social conservative and religious freedom groups like the Center for Arizona Policy, a powerful force at the Capitol.
The proposal “takes an ax to religious freedom by amending Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to allow government to ‘substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion’ with ‘non-discrimination’ laws,” CAP President Cathi Herrod wrote in a lengthy news release.