Tempe City Council Passes Anti-Discrimination Law

The Tempe City Council unanimously approved a law to prevent businesses from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and to protect other rights.

The new ordinance prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, age, disability, and military veteran status. Fines for violating the ordinance range up to $2,500.

"[The Tempe City Council] really wants to make sure Tempe embraces diversity and embraces protection for all of their citizens," Equality Arizona President Rebecca Wininger says. "They're really stepping it forward to make it a progressive city people want to relocate to."

The law bans discrimination not only in businesses, but employment and housing as well. Exceptions are provided for religious organizations and social clubs.

"I'm very excited to be part of a council and a community that embraces equality," Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said at the city council meeting. "The ordinance we passed will help protect our citizens from any type of discrimination and also further social and economic growth in our community."

After working on this law for six months, Tempe is the most recent Arizona city to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance. It joins Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff, which have also passed similar legislation.

The ordinance was passed just one day after Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062. SB 1062 would have allowed businesses facing discrimination lawsuits to use religion as a legal defense. Instead, Tempe's new ordinance specifically outlaws a variety of discrimination. Although four cities in Arizona now have anti-discrimination laws, there are currently no federal or state laws protecting LGBT people.

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