Arizona Capitol

Arizona Democrats Propose Banning LGBT Employment Discrimination

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are pulling opposite ways on protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Arizona.

While some Republicans are supporting a bill to extend religious protections to businesses, a gang of Democrats have since introduced legislation to ban LGBT discrimination in employment.

See also:
-Over the Rainbow

The Republican-backed bill, Senate Bill 1062, would allow people to use religion as a defense in a lawsuit. The bill's sponsor, Republican Senator Steve Yarbrough, specifically has compared his legislation to the case in New Mexico, in which a wedding photographer refused to photograph a lesbian couple's wedding. Yarbrough's bill would give the photographer a defense, if that were an Arizona case.

This bill has been passed by legislators before, but it was among the bill vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer as part of her Medicare expansion power-trip last year.

On the other hand, no attention has been paid to what 15 Democrats have since introduced -- a bill to ban LGBT discrimination in employment.

Just as employers can't refuse to hire someone because of their race, color, religion, age, disability, national origin, or gender, SB 1443 proposes employers shouldn't be able to refuse hiring someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Though Democrats are still the minority in Arizona's Legislature, it's obvious which bill has a better chance of passing.

But Arizona has gay Republicans, too -- some of them very prominent figures. However, that doesn't seem to have too much of an effect on what goes on at the Legislature.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley