Arizona is among a group of states the Human Rights Campaign is watching closely for not having statutes in place that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in the workplace and other places. The group put us in the "lowest performing category" in its newly-established state equality index released Friday.
We are among 32 states that doesn't have "explicit state-level workplace protections for all LGBT employees," the group says. There is inequality when it comes to the adoption process, employment benefits, not to mention that recently a bill claiming to be protecting "religious freedom," which would have allowed businesses deny service to LGBT people and others, made it to then-Gov. Jan Brewer's desk.
Brewer ended up vetoing that last year, but mostly because several businesses threatened to cut ties with Arizona.
From a press release by the HRC:
Though same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states and Washington, D.C., more than 111 million people, or 35 percent of Americans, live in states that have marriage but where LGBT people are not fully protected from discrimination in the workplace. And more than 206 million people nationwide live in states where every LGBT person lacks fully-inclusive statewide workplace sexual orientation and gender identity protections.There is some good news, though. A bill was introduced this year that seeks to fix this.
In Arizona, although a bill potentially allowing for discrimination against LGBT people on the basis of religious beliefs was defeated in the last session, it is likely that anti-equality lawmakers will reintroduce the bill in 2015. Advocates in Arizona, working closely with business leaders, hope to defeat that measure and build support for statewide non-discrimination legislation.
HB 2188 is a revision to the state's discrimination in the workplace statute, and adds both gender identity and expression, as well as sexual orientation to the law.
Among the bill's sponsors are state Reps. Stefanie Mach and Bruce Wheeler, and state Sen. David Bradley, all from Tucson.
We'll see if the bill makes it...