Connect with us

Arizona

A story full circle, Daniel Hernández makes a run for a U.S. House seat

The gay son of an immigrant mother from Mexico and growing up in Southern Arizona, he knows the obstacles and challenges facing that community

Published

on

Arizona State Rep. Daniel Hernández, (D-Pima) courtesy of the Daniel Hernandez for Congress campaign

BISBEE, AZ. – Walking through this historic border town only eleven miles north of Mexico, the young man towering over his elderly woman companion listened intently. For Arizona State Representative Daniel Hernández, it was his first full day of campaigning as he was speaking with voters in Cochise County as a declared candidate in the race to represent Arizona’s Second U.S. Congressional District.

For Hernández though, this race brings his personal political story full circle. The thirty-one year old native of Tucson, while attending the University of Arizona in his hometown had a job as an intern for then Congresswoman Gabrielle Dee Giffords, who held Arizona’s 8th Congressional seat in the U.S. House.

It was a tragic event while working for Giffords that would change the trajectory of Hernández’s life, altering it forever.

Giffords, known affectionately as ‘Gabby’ by family, colleagues, friends, staffers and even voters, had held a constituent meet and greet at a Safeway in her district on January 8, 2011, when at around 10:10 AM that Saturday, a 22-year-old man armed with a pistol shot her in the head before proceeding to fire on 18 other people, killing six.

Hernández immediately went to Giffords’ aid applying pressure to the gunshot wound on her forehead, and made sure she did not choke on her blood. He and local paramedic Aaron Rogers were credited with saving her life. Then U.S. President Barack Obama, at a memorial service for the victims held in the arena at the University of Arizona after the mass shooting, called Hernández a hero.

Working for Giffords’ and seeing her commitment to public service for her fellow Arizonans, after graduation he went on to advocate for access to reproductive health care and education as program manager for Raíz, Planned Parenthood’s Latino outreach program.

Education has also been of critical concern stemming from his being the first-generation college student in his family. This factor propelling him to his first run for an elected office where he was elected to the board of the Sunnyside Unified School District in Pima County and later on where he became the youngest school board president in the district’s history.

Since 2017, Hernández has served in the Arizona State House’s 2nd District, and also as one of four openly gay law makers. In addition to being one of the youngest elected legislators he is also a co-founder of the House LGBTQ caucus.

He has worked with both Republicans and Democrats to pass bills protecting survivors of sexual assault and secure $20 million for school resource officers, counselors, and social workers. He also led the fight against legislation that would discriminate against LGBTQ Arizonans.

Now he says he wants to expand his reach and influences beyond the confines of the State House Chamber in Phoenix to ensure better “progressive” representation in Washington.

The son of an immigrant mother from Mexico and growing up in the Latino culture of Southern Arizona, he knows intimately the obstacles and challenges facing that community. But he also understands the challenges that confront all Arizonans especially now as the State recovers from the Coronavirus pandemic and the economic devastation it has wrought. But beyond the economic recovery healthcare and education are also very much priorities for Hernández.

Immigration concerns, border security, and racial injustice are also very much a part of his portfolio as he looks toward hopefully representing the people of his district.

The Blade had an opportunity to ask Rep. Hernández his take on policies, his platform, and questions regarding what he would desire to accomplish should he be elected.

What would you say is your number one- all out most important priority in your portfolio of issues that you are running on?

Asking me to pick just one is like asking me to pick my favorite dog out of the five my family owns. I think that for me the one that has risen to the top, particularly during the last year, is the issue of health care. I have seen firsthand the challenges that exist for many to have access to high quality, affordable health care. When I was seventeen, I nearly died from an autoimmune disorder called Graves’ Disease. My parents at the time were out of work and could not afford health insurance and I went months without real health care.

Eventually I was accepted into the state children’s health insurance program (SCHIP), a program which saved my life. As soon as I had access to insurance, I was able to get tests and treatment, but it took nearly a year. During that time, I started having lung and heart issues. While I was fortunate to be a child and qualify for SCHIP, too many people still don’t have access and even having a plastic card that says you have insurance isn’t enough.

In the last year I saw once again in the communities that I represent those issues around health care access. During the pandemic I worked with Republican Governor Doug Ducey to save a hospital where the next nearest hospital was 29 miles away in a retirement community. Due to a complex set of federal regulations this hospital had 2 weeks worth of money for payroll when they asked for help. I was able to help secure a $5.5 million dollar grant to keep it open in a rural community filled with seniors.

As recently as this February, the county that I represent on the border called because they were only receiving an allotment of 250 vaccines a week in a population of 50,000. I once again worked with our Republican governor and increased that amount to 1,500 doses a week and eventually that county became one of the most vaccinated in the state.

In the legislature I have worked to expand access to affordable health care insurance programs for small businesses. This was done in a bipartisan way to ensure that sole proprietors and small family businesses can buy into more affordable plans. I’m focused on protecting and defending the hard-fought progress of the Affordable Care Act. Let’s build upon this vital program and bring equity and access to all Americans regardless of whether they live in a city or rural community.

Let’s talk more about healthcare for a moment, especially for elderly folks and notably LGBTQ seniors, accessibility is an issue, insurance, medicaid and medicare. What do you propose to offer as solutions for some of the more problematic issues confronting seniors?

Caring for our seniors is particularly important to me. As life expectancies have increased and diseases such as HIV have become manageable, we have more seniors that are LGBTQ than ever before. By 2030 SAGE predicts we will have 7 million LGBTQ seniors in the United States. That number provides both opportunities and challenges for a system that is not quite prepared to care for these individuals with dignity. There are some great opportunities to look at the work being done by both SAGE and the AARP to help inform our decisions as policy makers on how to better support our LGBTQ seniors receive affordable high-quality health care.  

For facilities that are in-patient we must continue to require providers to undergo training for cultural competency on how to work with our community. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services instituted new rules a few years ago that require person centered care plans. While that is a positive step, we must create stronger requirements for trainings for staff and the care of LGBTQ seniors.

Outside of long-term care facilities, there are a few things I think we should do including increase funding and create incentives for local area agencies on aging to help keep seniors that can be independent in their homes. Over the long-term, having people live in their own homes with support will produce better health outcomes. Giving more funds but with requirements to create LGBTQ inclusive and supportive program will be critical.

Courtesy of the Daniel Hernandez for Congress campaign

The Dreamers and a path for citizenship for them as well as the 11 plus million undocumented immigrants in the United States, it seems that immigration reform always is the “can kicked down the road” without real solutions. What do you propose?

I have lived in Southern Arizona my whole life. It is an all-too-common trope that every few years politicians come to the border for photo opportunities to show how dangerous it is and how there’s a new “crisis”. The reality for most people along the border is that we live in partnership with our Mexican neighbors. Our neighbors in Mexico are important partners for trade and they are vital to the sustainability of cities in Southern Arizona.

We need to resist calls to label undocumented people as dangerous. We must work in a bipartisan way to bring people out of the shadows and create a pathway to citizenship. We can look at the work done in the recent past by people like Senators Schumer and McCain during the gang of eight in 2013. That bill that passed the Senate with 68 votes can serve as a template.

I think we have a unique opportunity to push this soon. But if we keep waiting for the perfect time the can will continue to be kicked down the road. We need politicians to stop talking about this problem and get working on it.

LGBTQ Equality. Some politico pundits and others suggest that passage of the Equality Act in a 50-50 split Senate makes it a political impossibility. Conversely others argue that Religious exemptions and carve outs will be the only means to gain passage or Republican support. Do you feel that a compromise is a reality or will it take removing the obstacle of the filibuster to be the only path forward?

Working in Arizona’s state legislature has not been a walk in the park. It has served as a good training ground for having to approach policy making with an eye towards educating and assuming best intentions. I have worked with community partners for years to educate my colleagues on LGBTQ issues and I’m proud to say that I was able to secure bipartisan support for my bill to create protections from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

I’m going to take that same approach to Washington DC. I’m a firm believer that we can educate and get people to understand the reasons why the protections in the Equality Act are important. I’m hopeful that this will be done by the time I’d start serving in 2023. But if it’s not I’m ready to roll up my sleeves to work to ensure we educate those who don’t understand the issues to find new partners.

In a follow-up, given the legislative attacks on the Trans community this past legislative session as well as bills such as the anti-LGBTQ education measures, including the one you voted No on and ultimately was vetoed by the Governor- what measures can be taken to further protect the LGBTQ community?

First, we need to pass the Equality Act. Then we need to work to bring in new partners in the fight for LGBTQ equality. Through education we’ve built new alliances with the business community and with local Republican leaders. It is my hope that with this work we will reach a point where LGBTQ rights are no longer used as a political wedge issue.

Courtesy of the Daniel Hernandez for Congress campaign

You served as a Congressional Intern. How would you structure your office to better serve your constituents? Are meet and greets, town halls, and assemblies effective or do you favour a different approach? How would you prioritise the needs of your constituents?

In public life it is important that we go where people are. To wait for people to come to you means you will never fully know the needs of your constituents. This is why I always appreciated the “Congress On Your Corner” events that Gabby Giffords used to do. 

As a legislator I’ve driven all over southern Arizona to be accessible. During the pandemic I made sure to be out in my community from volunteering at vaccine distribution centers to helping constituents fill out information to get their stimulus checks. I’ve always been hands on. My plan is to be out in the community as much as possible and to hire staff that can help go to the most remote parts of the district to ensure we have coverage everywhere.

Jobs jobs jobs.’ It is the mantra of virtually every politician. But in reality, given the nature of the district, what would realistically bring greater economic stimulus in your opinion?

Depending on the part of the district the needs of the community differ. In Cochise County we need to invest in hard infrastructure like roads and bridges while in Pima county we need to find ways to help support startups particularly in the tech space. In both places we need to build out broadband infrastructure to better ensure access to commerce, telemedicine, and educational opportunities.

Education is key to success. What is your priority for Educational progress for your district and all Arizonans?

I’m extremely passionate about education. It’s why I ran for school board in 2011. Our schools need a strong advocate who will fight for our students and learning communities. During my tenure as a school board member, I tried to work to improve education but was hindered by massive cuts from the state.

Arizona has severely underfunded education for nearly two decades. My priorities are increasing funding for our k-12 and higher education institutions. We need to offer a livable wage particularly for our teachers to ensure we stem the loss of people leaving the profession due to high stress and low pay.

Courtesy of the Daniel Hernandez for Congress campaign

Finally, the First Nations have suffered greatly not only with the pandemic but also with a studied indifference from Washington especially in key areas of substance abuse, housing, and economic opportunities for Natives especially youth. What are some of your ideas to assist the tribal leaders and the elders in receiving better parity in dealing with the Federal and even the State government?

Arizona has 22 sovereign tribal nations and while I don’t currently represent any in their entirety, I have consistently worked to ensure we are listening to the needs of our Native American communities. My colleagues in the House Myron Tsosie and Arlando Teller taught me the importance of simply asking “Have Tribes been consulted on this?”.  Even though I have done my best to reach out to the Tribes, this taught me that I needed to work even harder to seek their input. My plan is to build upon the strong relationships I have, particularly with the tribes in Southern Arizona. I would establish a Native American Kitchen cabinet and meet with them regularly to hear about their needs. We need to not make assumptions and listen to these leaders directly about their needs.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Arizona

Arizona bill passes- parents can sue teachers for ‘usurping’ parental rights

“The consistent targeting of LGBTQ youth by the Arizona Legislature is a disgrace. School is sometimes the only place these kids feel safe”

Published

on

Arizona Capitol Building (Photo Credit: State of Arizona)

PHOENIX – A bill that allows parents to sue teachers for ‘usurping’ parental rights passed the state senate this week and is headed to the House for a final vote before being sent to Republican Governor Doug Ducey for his signature.

House Bill 2161, authored by Rep. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, initially was crafted to make it illegal for a government employee to withhold information that is “relevant to the physical, emotional or mental health of the parent’s child,” and specifically prevents teachers from withholding information about a student’s “purported gender identity” or a request to transition to a gender other than the “student’s biological sex.”

The bill would allow parents to sue school districts if teachers don’t comply.

After considerable opposition and uproar the bill was reworked with that specific language removed although the bill’s language now prohibits a school, political subdivision or government from “usurping the fundamental right” of a parent in raising their children, allows a parent to bring a civil suit against any government entity or official that violates the Parents’ Bill of Rights in Arizona law, gives parents the rights to all written or electronic records from a school about their child — including a students counseling records — and requires schools to notify parents before a survey is conducted of students, among other changes.

LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and others charge that the vagueness of the current language would still expose educators to the risk of being sued. The Arizona Mirror reported that Sen. Christine Marsh, a Phoenix Democrat and the 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year said that “I am a hard ‘no’ on this bill,” when explaining her vote on the Seante floor Monday afternoon. She added that the vague wording of “usurping the fundamental right” in the bill will likely lead to many parents filing lawsuits. 

“Anything could potentially qualify for it so we might have a whole bunch of teachers going to court for this,” she added.

Those concerns were also echoed by her Democratic Senate colleagues the Mirror reported  during committee hearings on the bill who feared that if passed, the bill could see librarians getting in trouble for recommending books that conflict with a parent’s worldview. 

Rep. Daniel Hernández told the Blade on Wednesday, “The consistent targeting of LGBTQ youth by the Arizona Legislature is a disgrace. School is sometimes the only place these kids feel safe. I encourage Arizona lawmakers to tackle bringing down prices and fixing our roads and bridges instead of making life harder for an already vulnerable group of students.”

Arizona Republic news columnist and longtime capital observer EJ Montini noted in his column Tuesday:

“For years, the Republican majority in the Arizona Legislature has waged war on public education, most specifically targeting teachers. Low pay. Ridiculous expectations. Insults. Intimidation,” he wrote.

“Working its way through the Legislature so that it may soon land on Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk is House Bill 2161, a dangerously obtuse piece of legislation that would allow parents to sue teachers and other government officials if they “usurp” a parent’s “fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children.”

What does that mean, exactly? Well, your guess is as good as mine. As good as anybody’s.

By the looks of it, HB 2161 is a way for lousy parents to sue good teachers. Essentially, it presents the cynical notion that teachers know the children in their classes better than the children are known by their mothers and fathers. And that teachers have more influence over children than their mothers and fathers,” Montini wrote.

Equality Arizona and other LGBTQ+ advocacy groups are raising the alarm that House Bill 2161 specifies that parents are allowed to object to instructional materials if it “questions [their] beliefs or practices in sex, morality or religion.”

This language has been labeled as a pathway to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ practices by activists.

HB2161 also spells out that parents must also be notified in advance if a teacher plans to incorporate “sexuality” into instructional materials other than sex education, and will be given the option to opt their children out.

The bill would also prohibit school districts from offering sex education to students unless their parents sign a permission slip allowing them to participate. But even if a parent allows their child to receive sex education, this bill specifically would give them the “right” to ban their child from learning about AIDS.

The dangerous portion of the bill’s language that activists say will seriously harm LGBTQ+ youth are provisions that would give parents the right to access all written and electronic records pertaining to their child, including participation in extracurricular activities and clubs, counseling records, reports of behavioral patterns, and email and other online accounts.

If an LGBTQ+ youth was not Out at home or was having problems that language could endanger the young person and compounds the problem by putting teachers who are assisting LGBTQ+ youth at risk of lawsuits.

The bill passed 16-12. Because it was amended in the Senate, it returns to the House of Representatives for a final vote possibly this week, after which it would go to Gov. Ducey for his signature.

Continue Reading

Arizona

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey refuses to say Trans people exist

According to the Associated Press, when specifically asked if he believed that there “are really transgender people,” the governor paused

Published

on

Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug (Screenshot/Arizona Public Media)

PHOENIX – Refusing to directly reporter’s questions Thursday the day after he signed Senate Bill 1138, which bans some types of medical care for transgender youth, and Senate Bill 1165, which prevents transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey refused to say if transgender people actually exist.

According to the Associated Press, when specifically asked if he believed that there “are really transgender people,” the governor paused for several seconds before answering.

“I’m going to ask you to read the legislation and to see that the legislation that we passed was in the spirit of fairness to protect girls sports in competitive situations,” Ducey said, referring to the new law that targets transgender girls who want to play on girls sports teams. “That’s what the legislation is intended to do, and that’s what it does.”

Asked again if he believed there are “actual transgender people,” he again answered slowly and carefully.

“I … am going to respect everyone, and I’m going to respect everyone’s rights. And I’m going to protect female sports. And that’s what the legislation does,” Ducey said.

Bridget Sharpe, the Arizona director of the Human Rights Campaign, described Ducey’s statements as “appalling.” “It’s quite shocking that he can’t even address trans people or even say that he thinks they exist,” Sharpe said.

The governor also signed abortion legislation that mirrors a Mississippi law currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court that will  will outlaw abortion after 15 weeks.

“Across the country, moderate Republicans are struggling—and too often failing—to stop the takeover of their party by dangerous extremists. Today’s trio of extreme AZ laws, one stripping away the right to abortion and two targeting transgender youth, show that Arizona is losing that battle.  We are in danger of watching large segments of our nation give way to authoritarian extremism,” Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, (NCLR) told the Blade in a phone call.

Ducey  is in the last year of his second term as Arizona governor and state law on term limits him from seeking reelection.

Cathi Herrod, the virulent anti-LGBTQ+ head of the Center for Arizona Policy lauded the governor’s actions telling the Associated Press that the legislation protects the unborn, ensures a level playing field for female athletes and shows that “Arizona will do everything it can to protect vulnerable children struggling with gender confusion” by enacting the surgery ban.

In a news release she posted on Twitter, Herrod wrote: “Thank you, Governor Ducey, for taking a bold stand for women athletes, vulnerable children, and the unborn by putting your signature on (the bills) in the face of intense opposition from activists.”

Continue Reading

Arizona

Arizona Governor signs three laws limiting transgender rights, abortion

“Today alone, on the eve of Transgender Day of Visibility, three anti-trans bills were signed into law across the country”

Published

on

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (Screenshot NBC News 12 Phoenix)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1138, which bans some types of medical care for transgender youth, and Senate Bill 1165, which prevents transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

The governor also signed abortion legislation that mirrors a Mississippi law currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court that will  will outlaw abortion after 15 weeks.

“Across the country, moderate Republicans are struggling—and too often failing—to stop the takeover of their party by dangerous extremists. Today’s trio of extreme AZ laws, one stripping away the right to abortion and two targeting transgender youth, show that Arizona is losing that battle.  We are in danger of watching large segments of our nation give way to authoritarian extremism,” Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, (NCLR) told the Blade in a phone call Wednesday.

The Arizona abortion legislation mirrors a Mississippi law now being considered by the nation’s high court. The bill explicitly says it does not overrule a state law in place for more than 100 years that would ban abortion outright if the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that enshrined the right to abortion in law, NBC News reported.

“In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life — including preborn life,” Ducey said in a signing letter. “I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them.”

Ducey is an abortion opponent who has signed every piece of anti-abortion legislation that has reached his desk since he took office in 2015. He said late last year that he hoped the Supreme Court overturns the Roe decision, the Associated Press noted.

In 2014, then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed an anti-LGBTQ+ bill in Arizona because she said it divided the state, did not address any specific or present concern for Arizonans, and would lead to adverse legal and economic consequences for the state. She also called for “greater respect and understanding among ALL Arizonans.”

Two Republican governors, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, vetoed anti-trans sports bans similar to SB 1165 last week, rejecting the discriminatory bills approved by their legislatures. The governors cited high suicide rates among transgender youth and concerns over legal challenges, which have followed similar laws in other states.

Also on Wednesday Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law Senate Bill 2, a bill which would restrict transgender girls from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity.

“While the problems transgender and nonbinary youth cause communities are hypothetical, the harms these laws will cause them are very real. We’re talking about a group of marginalized young people who have consistently been found to be at greater risk for bullying, depression, and attempting suicide — and 85% say recent debates around anti-trans laws have even further negatively impacted their mental health,” said Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy & Government Affairs. “Today alone, on the eve of Transgender Day of Visibility, three anti-trans bills were signed into law across the country. This onslaught is not an accident; it is overwhelming by design and in direct response to progress in the fight for trans rights. But the Trevor Project will continue supporting our young people while we continue the fight against these policies. We are here for you, and we are not going anywhere.”

Continue Reading

Arizona

Arizona Legislature sends two anti-Trans bills to governor

“We’re talking about legislating bullying against children who are already struggling just to get by” one lawmaker said

Published

on

Arizona State Capitol Building (Photo Credit: State of Arizona)

PHOENIX – The Arizona House of Representatives passed two anti-Trans bills Thursday – one prohibiting gender-affirming surgery for minors (S.B. 1138) and the other baring Trans students from participating on girl’s sports teams (S.B. 1165) – sending both to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.

Both pieces of legislation cleared the Senate last month, leaving the bills’ fate to Ducey, who has not signaled whether he will sign either. 

Earlier this week, two GOP governors – Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox – broke from their party and vetoed anti-Trans sports bills. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ organization, urged Ducey to follow the likes of Holcomb and Cox and veto the two measures. 

Republican attacks on Trans youth, primarily targeting their healthcare and participation in sports, have continued after a record-breaking year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in states. In 2022 so far, state lawmakers have proposed nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, according to an NBC News analysis

Proponents of anti-Trans sports bills argue they are necessary to keep “fairness” and “integrity” in women’s sports. Supporters of gender-affirming care bans say they will prevent children from decisions they may regret, equating the treatments to “mutilation” or “child abuse.”

During the debate on S.B. 1138, Republican Rep. John Kavanagh made similar comparisons, saying: “We should stand the same way today because this is mutilation of children. It is irreversible. It is horrific.”

However, critics pushed back against Kavanagh’s argument, saying a child’s health care should be left to parents and the decisions are not hasty ones. 

“We’re talking about our kids, who are already going to be taking the proper steps with their parents to be able to be who they are,” said Democratic Rep. Andres Cano. 

Though Republicans in several states – including Texas and Alabama – have pushed for such bans on gender-affirming care for minors, many top medical associations support the treatments for Trans and nonbinary youth. LGBTQ+ advocates call gender-affirming care “essential” and “life saving.”

S.B. 1165 brought similar partisan divides, with Republicans championing the bill’s passage. Over the last few years, Republicans have progressively pushed harder for bans on Trans women and girls playing sports — reaching a new peak with Trans University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who has set collegiate records. 

“This bill to me is all about biology,” said Republican Rep. Shawnna Bolick. “In my opinion, it’s unfair to allow biological males to compete with biological girls sports.”

Democrats accused the legislation of dehumanizing Trans youth and creating a problem that doesn’t exist in the state. 

“We’re talking about legislating bullying against children who are already struggling just to get by,” said Democratic Rep. Kelli Butler.

The HRC released a statement condemning the passage of both bills. 

“Arizonans deserve better than legislators who are seeking to bully transgender youth with politically motivated bills for the sake of discrimination itself,” said Bridget Sharpe, HRC Arizona state director. “Caught in the crosshairs of anti-LGBTQ+ elected officials’ divisive political strategy are vulnerable kids who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence. We urge Gov. Ducey to do the right thing and veto these harmful bills.”

Continue Reading

Arizona

Arizona Republican breaks from party to block anti-Trans bill

The legislation was one of Arizona’s 15 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced so far this year, the most of any state

Published

on

Arizona Republican state Senator Tyler Pace (Photo Credit: Office of Senator Tyler Pace)

PHOENIX – A bill aiming to ban gender-affirming care for LGBTQ+ youth in Arizona is effectively dead after Republican state Sen. Tyler Pace broke from his party last week and voted against the legislation. 

The rare and unexpected move came last Wednesday with Pace joining three Democratic colleagues on the Arizona Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, splitting the vote 4-4 and effectively stalling the bill. 

Though Pace saw “both sides,” he attributed his vote to the testimony of LGBTQ+ youth and their parents against the anti-Trans youth health care bill. 

“The testimonies we heard today about the many people who are using these avenues of medical treatments to save lives, to improve lives,” he said during the committee hearing, “I don’t want my vote to stop those great things.”

At the hearing, Trans youth and their families stood in front of the committee to testify against the anti-Trans bill. 

“Kids like me should be able to be who they are without lawmakers attacking their rights,” said Samuel Cars, who identifies as Trans and bisexual. “I ask you when you vote on this bill to think about me and this question: What side of history do you want to be on? Because the only way to be on the right side is vote no on this bill.”

Other people who spoke to the committee noted how the bill could increase suicide rates for Trans youth in the state. Late last year, LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention group The Trevor Project found a strong link between gender-affirming therapy and lower rates of suicide and depression in Trans youth. 

The legislation – S.B. 1138, which sought to ban gender-affirming care to Trans and nonbinary youth, including reversible puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgeries – was one of Arizona’s 15 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced so far this year, the most of any state, according to NBC News

Pro-LGBTQ+ activists and lawmakers grew so concerned over the legislative landscape that they hosted a press conference last month, sounding alarm bells over the anti-LGBTQ+ bills. 

“This is an attack on human rights,” said Arizona state Rep. César Chávez, chairman of the Arizona LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, at the press conference hosted by the HRC. “We’re criminalizing individuals for being who they are. On top of that, we’re criminalizing doctors and health care workers, individuals that are doing their job.”

The Arizona state Senate passed an anti-Trans sports bill at the beginning of February that would restrict Trans women and girls from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity. Pace voted in favor of the legislation. 

Last year, Arkansas and Tennessee passed similar gender-affirming care bans, making them the only two states in the country to do so. However, a federal judge blocked the Arkansas ban last summer, according to LGBTQ+ research nonprofit the Movement Advancement Project (MAP). 

MAP also notes that Tennessee’s law prohibits medical providers from providing hormone-related medication to “prepubertal minors.” “Best practice medical care for transgender youth only includes such medication once a youth has entered puberty, not prior to it, and this further illustrates how these legislative efforts reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of medical care for transgender youth,” it added. “However, this legislation sets a dangerous precedent for further restrictions of medical care for transgender youth.”

Continue Reading

Arizona

Arizona lawmakers intro bill to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination

While the measure has backers in the state’s business and faith communities it faces opposition from the anti-LGBTQ+ Center for Arizona Policy

Published

on

Arizona State Capitol Building (Photo Credit: Office of the Arizona Secretary of State)

PHOENIX – Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, (R-Maricopa), flanked by a group of bipartisan lawmakers announced Monday afternoon they were introducing legislation that would for the first time protect LGBTQ+ Arizonans from discrimination by businesses, landlords and employers based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

In addition to the provisions to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, the measure calls for a ban on the practise of conversion therapy by licensed health care professionals. 

While the measure has backers in the state’s business and faith communities it already faces opposition from the conservative anti-LGBTQ+ Center for Arizona Policy, (CAP) .

In 2014 the Center was defined by one journalist writing for the independent news outlet Phoenix New Times as; “In fact, the Center for Arizona Policy is a throwback to Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority. It’s a juggernaut of theocracy, intent on imposing its beliefs on public policy and making Republican politicians in Arizona march in lockstep with CAP’s war on gays, women, pornography, and public education.”

Cathi Herrod, president of CAP told NBC News affiliate KPNX 12 news that the measure would “treat reasonable disagreement as if it were discrimination.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Advertisement

Popular