60 Businesses and Organizations in Arizona File Brief Supporting Phoenix’s LGBT Non-Discrimination OrdinanceBy Adam Polaski • July 19, 2017 • 1:52 pm
This week 60 businesses and trade associations joined together to file a “friend-of-the-court” brief in Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix, a case currently before the Arizona Court of Appeals that is seeking to preemptively restrict a local ordinance in Phoenix that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The brief makes the case that protecting LGBTQ people in Arizona from discrimination is strengthens the city’s ability to conduct business and boosts the local economy.
Key signers include GoDaddy, Inc.; PetSmart, Inc.; Aetna; and the entities behind many major sports teams in Phoenix, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Coyotes.
Angela Hughey, President of Arizona’s ONE Community, said this week:
“Once again, the business community has demonstrated its leadership in the fight against discrimination. We are thrilled that companies and business associations of all varieties and sizes are united in support of the City’s ordinance and for equal rights for all in places of public accommodation. ONE Community was pleased to encourage this incredible group of business leaders to defend the City of Phoenix and this critical ordinance.”
In Phoenix, opponents of LGBT non-discrimination protections are leading litigation against the City of Phoenix’s LGBT-inclusive ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation such as businesses, restaurants and hotels. The plaintiff in the case is a business that offers custom stationary. They argue that conducting business with same-sex couples violates their right to free speech and free exercise of religion and are fighting for the ability to deny service to LGBT people because of who they are.
The brief filed this week featuring business leaders underlines the business case for non-discrimination. According to the brief: “Amici submit this brief to explain why the City of Phoenix’s antidiscrimination ordinance provides significant business and economic benefits, and why creating an exception allowing discrimination against same-sex couples based on religious beliefs would be disastrous for businesses and our economy as well as the direct victims of the discrimination.”
The brief continues:
The ordinance makes clear to current and prospective employees, customers, investors, and business partners that Phoenix is an open, inclusive and welcoming community that does not tolerate discrimination in the provision of goods and services in the marketplace. That is important because Arizona businesses struggle to attract and retain the best employee talent to compete effectively in a national and global economy. If, as Appellants advocate, Phoenix must allow discrimination based on religious beliefs against people who are in a same-sex relationship, businesses in this community will be at a competitive disadvantage.
The competitive disadvantage would be all the greater because Appellants’ logic would justify widespread discrimination against other historically mistreated groups, not just same-sex couples. Appellants argue that individuals and businesses may disobey antidiscrimination laws simply because their religious faith teaches them to discriminate. But if that logic were correct, cab drivers in Phoenix could refuse to transport women, restaurateurs could refuse to serve interracial couples, and shop owners could refuse to provide goods and services to same-sex couples, so long as the discrimination is religiously motivated.
The case in Phoenix is similar to a lawsuit now before the U.S. Supreme Court – the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, where anti-LGBT opponents are seeking religious exemptions from LGBT non-discrimination laws. Anti-LGBT forces are seeking to make these cases about artistic expression and freedom of religion – but the reality is that what they are trying to win is a License to Discriminate against LGBT people. No one should face discrimination for being who they are, and businesses open to the public must be open to everyone. No business should be able to pick and choose which laws to follow because of their dislike or disapproval of a group of people.