Last edited: November 15, 2003

Arizona Senate Passes Rights Bills

PlanetOut, May 1, 2001

Mark Kerr, Tucson Weekly Observer

SUMMARY: Arizona’s Senate moved the state closer to revoking its sodomy laws and prohibiting discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transsexuals in state employment.

The Arizona Senate has approved two pro-gay pieces of legislation, but neither one is yet guaranteed to become law.

Archaic Laws

On Monday Senators voted 18-11 to repeal Arizona’s 100-year-old "archaic laws" that make cohabitation, sodomy and any non-procreational sex acts illegal. Sponsored by openly gay state Rep. Steve May, R-Paradise Valley, the bill would also allow unmarried couples to take tax deductions for dependents.

"Lawmakers have finally recognized the inappropriateness of the government regulating behavior between consenting adults," said Kathie Gummerie, co-chair of the Arizona Human Rights Fund, the statewide GLBT rights group.

The bill, which was already approved by the House, now goes to Gov. Jane Hull’s desk to await action, but a spokeswoman for Hull said the governor has not decided how to proceed. "The governor keeps her own counsel on these things, and she hasn’t told anybody yet what she plans to do," she said, noting that Hull has received more calls about this bill than any other issue in this session.

Hull has five working days to consider action on the bill, which she could veto, sign, or allow to pass into law without her signature.

Arizona ENDA

Arizona’s Senate also approved the Arizona Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) by a 16-13 vote. Sponsored by Sen. Elaine Richardson, D-Tucson, Arizona ENDA would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in government employment.

Kathie Gummerie said, "GLBT Arizonans should be thrilled that the Senate has recognized all government employees should have equal rights and hopes the Arizona House will follow suit."

The bill now goes back to the Arizona House, which earlier approved a different version of the bill, for a final vote on Thursday, May 3. If approved, the legislation will go to the governor’s desk to await action.

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