Intolerant Legislation Latest Effort to Undermine Phoenix’s Powerful Anti-Discrimination Law

Mayor Greg Stanton and the City Council voted this afternoon to ask Gov. Jan Brewer to veto S.B. 1062, ill-conceived legislation that would provide new legal protections to those who actively discriminate against members of the LGBT community.

The Council urged a veto with an 8 to 1 vote. Councilman Sal DiCiccio was the only council member to support the bill.

“Phoenix is an open, tolerant and inclusive community that respects the rights of every person,” said Stanton. “I’m proud that the City Council spoke with a strong and united voice that this bill is wrong, and must be vetoed.”

Phoenix Has Earned LGBT-Friendly Reputation

In March 2013, the Phoenix City Council passed a human rights ordinance that made it unlawful to deny a person employment, housing or public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation.

As a result, Phoenix is now regarded as one of the most accepting cities in the United States of LGBT individuals. In November, Phoenix was named as one of only 25 cities to earn a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, and one of only eight “All-Star” cities to earn a perfect score without a supportive state anti-discrimination law.

Phoenix’s equality index score of 100 is the perfect score in the state. The next seven largest cities in Arizona earned an average score of 42, and the national average is 57.

S.B. 1062 Targets Phoenix Anti-Discrimination Law

S.B. 1062 is a direct response to Phoenix’s anti-discrimination ordinance. Those pushing for S.B. 1062 to become law are the same who vehemently opposed Phoenix’s ordinance, suggesting that human rights measures infringe on “religious freedom,” and that protecting members of the LGBT community would hurt children.

Phoenix heard the same messages of intolerance last year. DiCiccio said that Phoenix’s non-discrimination ordinance was “extremist and radical for Phoenix.”

After Stanton and the City Council passed the ordinance, Cathi Herrod and the Center for Arizona Policy said, “Make no mistake, the actions by the Council last night severely limit the religious freedom rights of everyone in the city of Phoenix. . . [T]he Bathroom Bill has serious negative implications for the safety of women and children.”

Herrod suggested that to combat Phoenix’s law, her supporters would pursue action at the State Legislature – and S.B. 1062 is the result.

Business Leaders United Against S.B. 1062

Business leaders – in Arizona and across the nation – are united in calling for a veto of the bill.

Earlier today, the chief executive officer of American Airlines wrote the governor to ask her to veto the bill, warning that, “There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far.” [Source: “Governor of Arizona Is Pressed to Veto Bill,” New York Times, Feb. 25, 2014]

Greater Phoenix Economic Council Chairman James Lundy, who also serves as CEO of Alliance Bank of Arizona, and Barry Broome, GPEC’s president and CEO, quickly called for a veto. In a letter to the Governor’s Office, they wrote, “We have already been contacted by four companies we are working on with the Arizona Commerce Authority who will look to locate elsewhere if this legislation is signed.” [Source: “Business opposition to Arizona’s religion bill continues to mount,” Arizona Republic, Feb. 24, 2014]

A total of 83 companies, including “several major hotel chains, tourism groups, corporate giants like AT&T and other technology companies” signed on to a letter originally sent by the Arizona Technology Council late last week. [Source: “Apple, 83 others, join anti-SB1062 chorus,” Arizona Capitol Times, Feb. 24, 2014]

“If the present political environment existed in 1995, I would never have come here to grow a business,” wrote Jonah Shacknai, the founder and former CEO of Medicis, in an op-ed in today’s Arizona Republic. “Senate Bill 1062, the latest farce by the state Legislature to legalize discrimination against gay patrons of businesses, is manifestly offensive to an element of our nation’s population’s lawfully exercising sexual preference.”

Others who support a veto include, among many others, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association, and U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake.   back...
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