Bipartisan Legislators in AZ File LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Bill

January 30, 2019 • 9:38 am

PHOENIX – On the heels of oral argument in a major case that could affect LGBTQ municipal ordinances statewide, Arizonan legislators from both sides of the aisle have introduced Senate Bill 1249 to update Arizona’s nondiscrimination law to include protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Bipartisan support for nondiscrimination laws has grown dramatically over the last several years. Arizona is not the only state in the U.S. to see a Republican lawmaker lead nondiscrimination efforts – other states including Virginia, Florida, and Missouri have also had Republican lawmakers serve as lead sponsor of LGBTQ nondiscrimination legislation this year.

“Elected officials in Arizona are uniting to send a clear message: discrimination is harmful and bad for business,” said Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans. “No one should have to worry about getting fired from their job, evicted from their home, or denied public services because of who they are. Treating all people equally, including LGBTQ residents, is a universal value we all can get behind. Arizona legislators should move forward on this bill quickly to help families and strengthen their state.”

Six municipalities in Arizona ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — including in Phoenix, the fifth-largest city in the U.S. More than 3,100 businesses in Arizona have already voiced their support for LGBTQ inclusive nondiscrimination by signing the UNITY Pledge. Further, 90% of Arizona’s top 50 employers include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination policies. Most importantly, the vast majority of Arizonans support the measure: A recent statewide poll showed support for inclusive non-discrimination at over 70% in the areas of employment, housing and public services among likely general election voters.

“The principles of nondiscrimination are rooted in core conservative values of fairness, equality, and opportunity,” said Senator Kate Brophy McGee (R, LD 28), sponsor of the bill. “If we want to live in a state that grows by attracting the very best talent, has a strong economy, and is a vibrant place to live, then we must be open for business to everyone.”

Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court heard oral argument in Brush & Nib LLC v. City of Phoenix, a case concerning whether to allow a calligraphy and stationery studio an exemption from the City of Phoenix’s long-standing LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. A negative ruling would undermine existing protections for thousands of LGBTQ people in Phoenix and could provide loopholes that would allow businesses to discriminate not only against LGBTQ people but also others currently protected under the city’s nondiscrimination law. It could also have dire consequences for other communities in Arizona with similar ordinances, including Flagstaff, Tempe, Tucson, Sedona and Winslow.

The work in Arizona is being led largely by ONE Community, a member-based coalition of socially responsible businesses, organizations and individuals who support and promote diversity, inclusion and equality for all Arizonans.

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans, Democrats, and Independents; businesses large and small; people of faith; and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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