Last edited: November 15, 2003

Arizona Gay Bills on Shaky Ground

The Advocate, 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 state’s 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. May’s bill will be heard on the house floor Wednesday.

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