Arizona bills to expand non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ have bipartisan support

PHOENIX – Arizona is one of many states that does not protect employees from being fired, denied housing or refused service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Arizona lawmakers have tried in at least one previous session to update the state’s non-discrimination laws to add these protections, but they failed to gain enough traction.

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They’re trying once again. This time, with more bipartisan support.

Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, co-sponsored House Bill 2546 along with a handful of other Democrats.

Republican Sen. Kate Brophy McGee of Phoenix has introduced a concurrent bill – Senate Bill 1249 – in that chamber, where Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, is a co-sponsor along with several Democrats.

“The bill has been introduced in prior years,” McGee said at a news conference Tuesday. “Last year, I was the only Republican to sign on. This year, we have another Republican who signed on … and conversations with my colleagues behind the scenes tell me that there may be more Republican votes.”

The bill may face some resistance. The Center for Arizona Policy, a high profile conservative nonprofit, released a statement saying, “These bills undermine constitutional guaranteed freedoms of speech and religion, threaten women’s equality and privacy, and harm small businesses.”

One Community, a metro Phoenix coalition fostering diversity and inclusion coalition, supports the bill. Its president, Angela Hughey, is optimistic, telling KJZZ host Lauren Gilger that this year’s effort has more bipartisan names and statewide businesses backing it.

“The business community resoundingly is very supportive of this,” she told KJZZ.

She said six Arizona municipalities have adopted LGBTQ-inclusive ordinances, and 19 states offer statewide protections. (LGBTmap.org, however, puts the state count at 20, plus the District of Columbia.)

Hughey said it’s important to offer protections to everyone: “If you’re LGBTQ, your rights shouldn’t depend on the zip code that you happen to be in.”

Hernandez said lawmakers have a duty to ensure all Arizonans are treated fairly and protected.

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