State Watch

Bipartisan Arizona lawmakers to introduce bill to protect against LGBT discrimination

Arizona lawmakers announced on Monday that they would introduce legislation to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination at the hands of businesses, landlords and employers.

The anti-discrimination legislation comes from a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including the state’s Republican House Speaker, Russell Bowers.

“The coalition supporting this are people from so many walks of life coming together based on values of fairness and freedom for all,” Rep. Amish Shah (D), who is one of the bill’s main sponsors, said on Monday at a press conference announcing the legislation. 

The legislation prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in places of work and public accommodation as well as in housing matters. Religious institutions would be exempt from the policy but not individuals who claim that their faith prevents them from serving certain customers, according to The Associated Press

Though many businesses and faith leaders support the measure, it is opposed by a social conservative group known as the Center for Arizona Policy, according to the wire service.

“This legislation would treat reasonable disagreement as if it were discrimination, dictate a coercive sexual ethic and penalize those who dissent,” Cathi Herrod, the group’s president, said, per the AP.

The measure faces difficult odds in the legislature, even with the Republican House Speaker’s backing, as social conservatives have significant influence among House and Senate Republicans in the state, the AP noted. 

Ten Arizona cities, including Phoenix and Tucson, have added LGBT protections to their anti-discrimination ordinances.

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