Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, has given a big thumbs-up to anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry while insisting he’s “against discrimination in all its forms.”
According to Ducey, the state has too many laws already, and businesses need the freedom to deny jobs, housing, and public services to LGBTQ+ people. “I think we’ve got a lot of laws,” the governor said on Thursday, as the Arizona Daily Star previously reported. “I’ve been more in the business of wanting to repeal laws and regulations.”
But Arizona already has laws on the books prohibiting discrimination based on categories like race, sex, national origin, and religion. Sexual orientation and gender identity aren’t banned in the Grand Canyon State — or in 28 others.
Ducey was responding to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Arizona. After lengthy litigation involving a Phoenix-based stationery company that didn’t want to serve same-sex weddings, the court ruled that every American has the right to “express their beliefs in public,” which “includes the right to create and sell words, paintings, and art that express a person’s sincere religious beliefs.”
Ducey praised the ruling. “The court was able to find a place where they could respect the First Amendment and religious freedom,” he said. “And we’ll continue to be a state, because it was so narrowly decided, that doesn’t accept discrimination in these forums.”
“I’m against discrimination in all its forms,” Ducey added.
But by failing to include LGBTQ+ people in its statewide nondiscrimination laws, Arizona absolutely accepts discrimination. While the ruling was, indeed, narrow — and the court clarified that the decision did not apply to any other businesses — it opens the door to others who wish to engage in discrimination, refusing to serve interracial couples, for example.
It’s also arguable that Ducey is against anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, as he has opposed marriage equality and domestic partnerships. He has also explicitly refused to expand nondiscrimination laws to cover LGBTQ+ citizens.
In fact, last week’s Arizona Supreme Court s ruling is likely a result of Ducey packing of the court with anti-LGBTQ+ conservatives. Ducey previously expanded the size of the court, allowing him to appoint justices that would further the same agenda he has fought for most of his career.
The Human Rights Campaign has condemned Ducey as no friend to LGBTQ+ people.
“[LGBTQ+] Arizonans pay taxes, own businesses, serve in our military and contribute to our economy, and they deserve a government that stands with them,” said Justin Unga, its Arizona state director, in a statement. “Governor Ducey’s Supreme Court [has] issued a license to discriminate against Arizona’s [LGBTQ+] community in an alarming decision that puts the state’s people, reputation, and economy at risk.”