Equality Arizona

Will Gov. Doug Ducey Defend LGBT Rights?

KTAR — Activists in Arizona are hopeful Gov. Doug Ducey will continue to move the state forward on social issues, particularly the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents.

One primary concern for groups such as Equality Arizona, an advocacy organization for LGBT rights, is whether Arizona might see a resurrection of legislation similar to SB 1062.

The bill — vetoed by former Gov. Jan Brewer in February — would have strengthened religious protections in the state and allowed businesses to refuse service based on a sincerely-held religious belief, leading to fierce outcry of violating gay rights.

Now, with a new governor and the state’s Legislature back in session, Catherine Alonzo, co-chair of Equality Arizona’s board of directors, said she hopes Ducey would make the same decision as Brewer, should legislation similar to SB 1062 come across his desk.

“We have every hope and faith that Ducey would veto a version of (SB 1062) if it went to his desk, but we’re really hoping that legislators would see past that type of legislation and really we don’t have to fight it,” she said.

With Ducey’s campaign primarily focused on repairing the economy and ensuring a more pro-business atmosphere, Alonzo said supporting legislation similar to SB 1062 would be counterproductive for the state’s business climate.

“Putting the economy and economic growth at the forefront of his platform, (supporting) any bill like a (SB) 1062 is completely contradictory to that,” Alonzo said.

Alonzo expressed optimism that a repeat of the SB 1062 campaign would be less likely now because of the intense nationwide controversy it created.

“There were several legislators who initially voted for it to pass to the governor’s desk who, in the aftermath of the bill passing, changed their minds,” she said.

Groups that backed the legislation, particularly the Center for Arizona Policy and its president, Cathi Herrod, have not said whether they will push Arizona legislators to reconsider similar legislation.