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Arizona Governor issues executive order banning conversion therapy

Hobbs also signed an executive order to ensure the state employee health care plan covers medically-necessary gender-affirming surgery

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Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs is shown signing legislation in this file photo. (Photo Credit: Office of the Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs)

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs signing an executive order Tuesday banning the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. With the signing of this executive order, Arizona is now the 27th state in the country to enact protections against the practice of conversion therapy.

Hobbs also signed an executive order to ensure the state employee health care plan covers medically-necessary gender-affirming surgery.

“Our LGBTQ+ community should never have to face hate and discrimination, and I will do everything in my power to fight for full equality,” said Governor Hobbs. “The State is leading by example on this issue, and we will continue working until Arizona is a place where every individual can participate equally in our economy and our workforce without fear of discrimination or exclusion.”

As outlined in the Executive Order restricting conversion therapy, State Agencies will implement policies to actively protect LGBTQ+ minors from the harmful effects of conversion therapy and ensure public funds are not spent on these dangerous practices.

The American Psychological Association found that conversion therapy contributes to increased risk of suicide, depression, and substance use throughout an individual’s life. Additionally, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has determined that conversion therapy should not be a part of any behavioral health treatment.

“Equality Arizona is excited to see Governor Hobbs take bold executive action to protect the LGBTQ+ community,” said Jeanne Woodbury, Interim Executive Director for Equality Arizona. “Protecting Arizonans from fraudulent and harmful treatment is exactly what we elect our statewide leaders to accomplish, and taking action against conversion therapy is long overdue.” 

Read the Executive Order on Ensuring Access to Medically Necessary Gender-Affirming Healthcare HERE
Read the Executive Order on Protecting Young People from Conversion Therapy HERE.
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Arizona

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey 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”

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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.”

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Arizona

Arizona Republican breaks from party to block anti-trans bill

SB 1138 sought to ban gender-affirming care for LGBTQ youth.

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

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-transgender 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 – Senate Bill 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, chair of the Arizona LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, at the press conference hosted by the Human Rights Campaign. “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.”

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Arizona

Arizona lawmakers introduce LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination bill

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

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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.”

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