Post submitted by HRC State and Municipal Legislative Program Manager Whitney Lovell:
While we celebrate Governor Brewer's veto of the "license to discriminate" bill, we should also recognize the many city officials from across the state who stood up this week to support their LGBT citizens, including the mayors of Arizona's three largest cities.
Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix along with the city council passed a resolution urging the Governor to veto the bill. Mayor Stanton said, "S.B. 1062 cruelly targets the LGBT community, but also clears the way for renewed discrimination against people who suffered from discrimination in the past. As written, it would subject women, members of the Mormon, Jewish and Muslim communities, disabled individuals and many more to hateful - but suddenly legal - acts."
Mayor Rothschild of Tucson wrote a letter to Governor Brewer stating, "the principles of liberty and justice for all are at the core of the struggle for civil rights in America. Bills like S.B. 1062 and HB 2153 would take our state backwards to a time when discrimination was the norm."
And, Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, a devout member of the Mormon Church, was the first Republican candidate for governor to speak out in opposition of S.B. 1062 by asking Arizona business leaders to oppose the bill.
As part of the Municipal Equality Index (MEI), HRC takes note of when city leadership stands up for their LGBT citizens in the face of much adversity. A letter from the mayor or a resolution from the city council may not seem significant at first, but these acts send a message, loud and clear, to their LGBT citizens that they are a valued part of the community. In the summer of 2012, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation released a groundbreaking report on LGBT youth, which found that four in ten of LGBT youth surveyed said that the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBT people, and 60% of the youth surveyed said that they heard negative messages about being LGBT from elected officials. And, LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to say they will need to move from their hometown in order to feel accepted. When elected leaders speak out for equality, their constituents do hear and it informs their constituent's perception of safety, inclusion, and belonging.
The MEI rates 291 municipalities on the basis of how inclusive their laws and policies are of LGBT people. For more information or to read the report, please visit www.hrc.org/mei.