Arizona Gay Bills on Shaky Ground
March 15, 2001
Several pro-gay bills in the Arizona legislature are either dead or on
shaky ground, confounding gay rights leaders who pinned their hopes on a new
group of moderate legislators when the legislative session opened, The Arizona
Republic reports. These legislators, advocates hoped, would help push several
bills that address discrimination, domestic partnerships, and sodomy laws
through to a winning vote. But halfway through the session, the bills are
either dead or tottering in committees.
SB 1014 and HB 2414, which would repeal the states sodomy laws, are
stuck in committees and are effectively dead. HB 2237, which would outlaw
employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, is in the same
situation. A bill updating the language in the civil rights protection code,
HB 2319, passed the house judiciary committee only after the clause banning
sexual orientation discrimination was removed from it. But bipartisan
sponsorship and discharge petitions, which remove any bill stalled in the
rules committee and bring it to vote before the full membership, gives gay
rights leaders hope that the bills still have a chance.
"We think we have the votes for the bills on the house and senate
floor; the problem seems to be getting the measures there," said Kathie
Gummere, a lobbyist for the Arizona Human Rights Fund, a gay rights
organization. This is where the more centrist legislators play a key role.
"There is a greater willingness to consider bills on the gay agenda
because this is the most moderate legislature to date," said Cathi Herrod,
a lobbyist for the faith-based Center for Arizona Policy.
SB 1225, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the
workplace, was placed back on the floor with a discharge petition after almost
dying in the senate commerce committee. HB 2016, a new bill that would repeal
the sodomy laws, was introduced by openly gay house ways and means committee
chairman Steve May. May revitalized the bill by packaging it as the 2000
Equity Tax Act, which would allow unmarried couples to claim dependent
deductions for people who are part of their household. Mays bill will be
heard on the house floor Wednesday.
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