At a time when courts, as well as voters are taking a closer look at the far-reaching effects of so-called “non-discrimination” laws, activists insist on pushing through their agenda based on false information.  “It simply requires businesses open to the public are open to everyone,” claim proponents of two Sexual Orientation Gender Identity (SOGI) bills (SB1321, HB2716) unveiled at a Capitol press conference yesterday.

But one of those “simple” bills – HB 2716 – amends Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act allowing government to “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” to accommodate demands.  This would be a serious violation of Arizonans’ religious and conscience rights with the apparent intent to force health care providers to participate in abortions, or provide puberty blockers or surgery to minors and adults struggling with gender identity questions. It essentially puts the demands of the LGBTQ community above those who exercise their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion. One speaker put it this way, “Get with the program,” as he urged Arizona to be more like California.

While businesses are free to implement their own policies, government imposed SOGI laws force blanket policy even in situations of utmost sensitivity and safety. Such laws demand girls and women share public restrooms, locker rooms, showers, even domestic violence shelters with biological men. They also force women to compete with biological men on women’s sports teams, clearly disadvantaging female athletes and rolling back decades of women’s achievements. All this in addition to showing profound disdain for religious freedom.

HB2716 effectively overturns a recent Arizona Supreme Court ruling (Brush & Nib v City of Phoenix) affirming basic speech and religious freedoms. The case itself proves our point: So-called  “non-discrimination” laws punish people who do not conform to government’s ideology, and violate their constitutional rights. The court made clear that the government “must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions.”  It adds, “public accommodations are not immune to the First Amendment.”

But Arizona voters overwhelmingly support citizens’ rights to live and work according to their deeply held religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are unpopular. A recent poll found 77% of Arizonans support that constitutional right.

Dispelling myths

Speaker after speaker at yesterday’s press conference claimed Arizona needs a statewide SOGI law for a strong economy and business climate. Representative Daniel Hernandez claimed, “Who you are will get you fired.” But that’s just talk. Let’s look at the facts. Contrary to claims by proponents, “non-discrimination” laws:

  • Are not necessary
    • There is simply no evidence of a widespread problem. On the contrary, such laws actually violate First Amendment rights of Arizona business owners and health care workers who aim to live and work according to their deeply held beliefs. If there were a widespread problem, proponents would have ticked them off at the press conference. But they didn’t cite one instance.
  • Do not hold back Arizona’s economy. In fact, AZ thrives without such laws
  • Do not limit major sporting events in Arizona
    • Arizona has hosted three Super bowls, and will host another in 2023
    • Arizona hosted the NCAA Men’s Division One Final Four in 2017, and will host it again in 2024
    • Arizona hosts the Phoenix Open yearly
    • Arizona hosts Spring Training yearly

Representative Hernandez, (D) LD2 sponsored the House bill and Senator Kate Brophy-McGee (R) LD28 sponsored the Senate bill.

To learn more, visit CAP’s Bill Tracker at azpolicy.org.

ICYMI:

  • CAP hosted nearly 150 students and staff at the Arizona Capitol Tuesday for National School Choice Week. Governor Doug Ducey, Treasurer Yee, President Fann, Speaker Bowers, and other legislators spoke to students about the importance of preserving Arizona’s strong school choice laws.

  • Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor cast the tie-breaking vote repealing even modest abortion restrictions and lowering the medical standards for abortionists.
  • Nevada’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit to try to get the Equal Rights Amendment added to the U.S. Constitution. This, after The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel deemed the ERA dead as of its 1982 deadline.

 

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