AZ Senate: Arpaio, Ward & McSally Share Dangerous Agenda, Unpopular Views on LGBTQ Issues

by Ianthe Metzger

Three anti-LGBTQ candidates enter GOP primary against Kyrsten Sinema, as majority of Arizona voters say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who opposes LGBTQ equality

WASHINGTON -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, denounced the slate of anti-LGBTQ candidates who have entered the race against Representative Kyrsten Sinema for Arizona’s open Senate seat. On Tuesday, Joe Arpaio -- whose infamous torture and racial profiling of immigrants and people of color has earned him both widespread derision and Trump’s presidential pardon -- entered the race alongside noted conspiracy theorist Kelli Ward and Rep. Martha McSally, who is set to announce her candidacy this week. All three support giving businesses a license to discriminate, and oppose marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

As polling of GOP primary voters indicates a statistical dead heat between these three candidates, polling of likely voters in November’s general election indicates their shared anti-LGBTQ views will be a liability. The majority of likely voters in Arizona support protections for the LGBTQ community, with 63 percent in favor of the Equality Act. Further, when asked if knowing a candidate is anti-LGBTQ makes them more or less likely to vote for a candidate, a majority of Arizona voters, by a margin of 51-to-10, say they would be less likely to support that candidate.

“There’s absolutely no question about who Arizonans should be supporting,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “They can either support Kyrsten Sinema, a proven champion of equality who has worked her entire career to ensure that every person can achieve the American dream, or Arpaio, Ward and McSally, who, time and time again, have supported discrimination against LGBTQ people. These three share a dangerous agenda that is bad for Arizona and has no place in the U.S. Senate. It would do them well to remember that Arizona voters overwhelming support equality and reject politicians who don’t.”

Joe Arpaio built his career on attacking nearly every marginalized community, including using anti-LGBTQ schemes to humiliate inmates at his ‘Tent City’ prison, like forcing them to wear pink underwear. Following a long record of flouting the law, violating the civil rights of Maricopa County’s Latinx population, and carrying out a hate-filled agenda through extreme racial profiling, he was found guilty of criminal contempt, but pardoned by Donald Trump last August. He also continues to campaign against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides much needed relief for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children -- including 75,000 LGBTQ Dreamers.

Kelli Ward has consistently supported and voted in favor of legislation that would give businesses a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people. She even called for the impeachment of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch after Lynch filed a complaint alleging North Carolina was discriminating against transgender people, following that state legislature’s passage of the notorious HB2 in 2016. Ward also praised the president for pardoning Sheriff Arpaio, agreeing with Trump’s claim that Arpaio was a “patriot.”

Rep. Martha McSally, who has long opposed marriage equality, is expected to announce her Senate run on Friday. She has pushed for discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ policies including an amendment that would allow discrimination against LGBTQ people by taxpayer-funded organizations.

HRC has endorsed Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9) for U.S. Senate. She is a staunch advocate for the LGBTQ community, earning a perfect 100 on HRC’s Congressional Scorecards each Congress since she was elected in 2012. Sinema is also a cosponsor of the Equality Act, crucial federal legislation that would extend comprehensive federal protections to LGBTQ Americans.

HRC has prioritized Arizona for early and expanded investment in the 2018 elections.  HRC has identified more than 800,000 “Equality Voters” who support pro-LGBTQ policies and will be targeted for outreach and mobilization in the run up to Election Day. In July, HRC launched HRC Rising, the earliest deployment of resources and largest grassroots expansion in its 37-year history ahead of the 2018 midterms. National and in-state staff across the country will be leading this historic campaign to win equality in states from coast-to-coast, resist the politics of hate, fight anti-LGBTQ legislation, and fuel pro-equality candidates and initiatives.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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