On Friday, October 17, Arizona’s marriage equality ban was deemed unconstitutional and marriage equality became the law of the land. Largely, the public was overjoyed about this decision. In September 2013, the Behavior Research Center reported that approximately 55% of Arizonans support marriage equality. Immediately following the ruling, several same-sex couples celebrated the victory and married. Arizona List joins in this celebration and would like to congratulate all the couples that that have decided to marry in the wake of this decision.
But It’s Not Over
Still, we must recognize that granting the freedom to marry does not mean our fight for the rights of LGBTQ citizens is over. In March 2013, the proposed Arizona law SB 1045 threatened to apply criminal penalties when people use gendered bathroom spaces that do not match the sex printed on their birth certificate. The overwhelming outrage from the trans community killed the bill. Only eight months ago, the proposed Arizona law SB1062 threatened to allow businesses to refuse service to patrons if those patrons did not act in accordance to the proprietor’s religious beliefs. Thankfully, after receiving much scrutiny, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the proposed legislation. Yet sexual orientation remains as an identity not protected from discrimination in our state constitution. These two failed bills demonstrate the power of advocacy to prevent hateful policies and oppose oppression. The mere existence and advancement of such bills driven by the GOP show our state’s need for political voices to dissent from hate and support social equality.
While the freedom to marry is a great step forward, there are several reasons to continue to passionately care about the needs of LGBTQ people. Right now, Arizona is a “right to work” state, meaning employers can fire people without having to provide reason. So, if someone openly expresses who they are, they may potentially risk their job security. Meanwhile, Arizona youth also fear coming out. A 2007 Tucson study found that 17% of homeless youth is LGBTQ-identified, and the CDC reports that nationally high school-aged lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are twice as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers.
It is clear that even while Arizonans can celebrate this monumental victory in social equality, we must go forward with the recognition that there is always more work to be done. Arizona List elected officials, candidates, and staff are proud to support the LGBTQ community and will continue to fiercely combat intolerance.
-Mallory Corrus, Arizona List Intern