State Sen. Sean Bowie last week introduced a bill with Republican support that extends non-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.
This is the second consecutive year a LGBTQ inclusive non-discrimination bill has had bipartisan support at the Arizona Legislature. SB 1249 is sponsored by Republican Sen. Kate Brophy McGee and co-sponsored by Bowie, an Ahwatukee Democrat.
“LGBTQ inclusion isn’t a red or blue issue – it’s an Arizona issue. Being inclusive contributes to our economic sustainability and our ability to attract and retain top talent and business. It also happens to be the right thing to do,” said Bowie.
Brophy McGee added, “The principles of non-discrimination are rooted in core conservative values of fairness, equality and opportunity. If we want to live in a state that grows by attracting the very best talent, has a strong economy, is a vibrant place to live, then we must be open for business to everyone.”
Currently, only six Arizona municipalities have ordinances that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and Arizona has no statewide laws that protect gay and transgender individuals from being fired, denied housing or refused service.
More than 3,100 businesses in Arizona have already voiced their support for LGBTQ inclusive non-discrimination by signing the UNITY Pledge. Further, 90 percent of Arizona’s top 50 employers include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination policies.
A recent statewide poll showed support for inclusive non-discrimination at over 70 percent in the areas of employment, housing and public services among likely general election voters.
The measure is one of a number of bills recently introduced by Bowie, who serves on the appropriations, finance and commerce committees.
Another seeks to ban conversion therapy against children under 18. “Conversion therapy is a harmful and medically discredited practice that seeks to “convert” LGBTQ youth,” he said.
He’s also introduced a bill to add gender identity on crime reporting statistics and another requiring speedier responses by government agencies to public records requests.
Bowie also introduced SB 1190, which would create a state finance review task force to look at the tax code, tax credits and revenue, “and produce a report that would come up with long term policy solutions to issues like education funding and how we fund core state services.”
He also introduced a bill to provide state grants to low-income community college students who are in career and technical education programs.
In an update to constituents, Bowie criticized several measures introduced by Republicans “aimed at making it harder to vote, most egregiously SB 1046, which would prevent voters who receive early ballots from dropping them off at the polls on Election Day.”
“There is no legitimate policy reason for these bills – they will make it harder to vote, and that is really the entire point,” he said, adding:
“No coincidence that these bills are coming two months after the majority party lost four statewide elections, including a US Senate race for the first time in thirty years. For bills like SB 1046, we will fight them as hard as we can to ensure that voters are not being disenfranchised.”