Commentary Protesters gather at the Arizona Capitol in February 2014 to call on Gov. Jan Brewer to veto Senate Bill 1062, which would have legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Photo by Devon Christopher Adams | Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0 While serving as openly gay members of the Arizona House of Representatives, we were both confronted with — and voted against — homophobic bills routinely introduce by far right-wing members of the Republican Party.
Already this session, lawmakers have advanced bills to ban from school curricula books that mention homosexuality and to prohibit transgender women and girls from playing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity. They’ve also proposed prison sentences for doctors who provide gender-affirming care to minors.
The 2014 legislative session brought us the calamity of Senate Bill 1062, which would have granted individuals (as well as businesses, corporations and nonprofits) the right to cite religious beliefs to deny service to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Conservatives in both chambers passed the legislation and sent it enthusiastically to then-Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk for her signature.
In a statement she made upon vetoing the bill, Brewer said: “To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want. Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination.”
We were both members of the Arizona House of Representatives when these bills were approved, but the list of bigoted bills peddled at the Arizona Legislature is long — and only growing longer this year.
Brewer was right in 2014 when she said that our society was undergoing dramatic changes. Same-sex couples have the right to marriage. Kids now understand that gender is not binary (even if their parents do not). While we celebrate many of these changes, we also recognize there’s still a long way to go. The homophobic and transphobic bills working their way through the legislative process will take us in the wrong direction, eroding the progress we have made toward becoming a society in which children are able to thrive no matter who they love or how they identify.
As elected officials, as Arizonans and as members of the LGBTQ+ community, we recognize the destruction — to our state’s reputation and to children’s emotional and mental health — that is caused each session with the introduction of homophobic and transphobic legislation. These hatred bills must be stopped.