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Bill To Prohibit Discrimination Against LGBT Community In Housing, Employment

Right now, Arizona’s Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national original or disability. But it does not include protections for the LGBT community. A new bill is attempting to change that.

State Sen. Katie Hobbs of District 24 has introduced a bill that would ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status.

According to a study by UCLA’s Williams Institute, there is about a 25 percent income disparity between straight men and gay men, and an even larger one for women in same-sex couples. And, there are issues with reported workplace harassment and mistreatment.

Kevin Patterson, president of Equality Arizona, spoke with The Show’s Lauren Gilger and said that there are many ways in which the LGBT community is still experiencing discrimination that we don’t always realize.

“Whenever Arizona achieved marriage equality, I think the studies showed that over 76 percent of the community thought that most of our problems in the LGBT community were over and that that had fixed everything,” he said. “And, unfortunately, in the state of Arizona, you can still be fired, you can still be denied housing, and for many in our transgender community, in the LGBT, they can be denied public access to many things, such as restrooms.”

Patterson said many companies have policies in place that would protect from discrimination against the LGBT community but not all.

Several cities in the state do, too. Phoenix, Tucson, Tempe and Flagstaff prohibit public and private sector employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but, according to the Williams Institute, about 67 percent of Arizona’s workforce still is not covered by a local ordinance like those.

Patterson said that having this in the state law is an important step, and it will allow for people to submit complaints, as well.

Bills like this have been introduced many times in the past in our state Legislature, nearly every year since 2008. But, they haven’t gotten anywhere in the state Legislature. Patterson said he hopes if they keep sending the message that this is good for Arizona, it will eventually take hold.

Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.