Members of the Arizona legislature are at it again.
Instead of spending their time working on the difficult economic issues facing their constituents, they have chosen to create legislation aimed at alienating citizens rather than supporting them.
Rep. John Kavanagh put forth a proposal earlier this week that would require people to use the restroom of the gender designated on their birth certificates or face six months in jail. It is a measure clearly targeted toward transgender individuals.
The proposal is in response to a recently passed City of Phoenix ordinance that expanded the city’s anti-discrimation laws for city contracts, public accommodations and housing to include gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said of the change, “updating our ordinance is the right thing to do. It’s long past due.”
Instead of praising the forward-thinking ideas of the Mayor and Phoenix City Council, social conservatives immediately went to work attempting to undermine the progress.
This isn’t the first time Arizona lawmakers have put forth controversial legislation:
—S.B. 1070 – An anti-immigration law proposed in 2010 that allows law enforcement to question a person’s citizenship status during any routine stop, detention or arrest.
—H.B. 2625 – A 2012 bill that would no longer require insurers to cover women’s contraception unless it was prescribed for a medical condition.
—H.B. 2480 – A birther amendment proposed in 2012 that would require presidential candidates to prove their U. S. citizenship in order to have their name on the Arizona ballot (even though there is a federal law requiring the same).
I’m a native of Arizona. I love my state. Most of my family and friends are reside here and I have cherished memories of growing up in this beautiful desert. It used to be a place that had a sense of freedom and some balance politically. We’re not perfect, and we’ve certainly had our fair share of dreadful politicians—former governors Evan Mecham and Fife Symington come to mind—but for the most part, our political landscape was fairly temperate—until recently.
In the last decade our political climate has become more divisive. Instead of finding ways to have our community progress to a better future, both morally and economically, the state is now littered with politicians set to hinder what is positive and necessary for our society to thrive.
What’s more troubling are the serious issues that are being neglected in pursuit of unnecessary political agendas:
—A recent survey by the EPE Research Center ranks Arizona 43rd in education quality.
—Arizona’s Child Protective Services remains an agency in crisis with a record number of children in foster care and huge backlog of cases, while their budget continues to have a shortfall.
—Arizona is still struggling to recover from the recent real estate collapse and has been in an uphill battle to redefine itself economically since the housing industry took a major tumble. The state needs to make itself attractive to new businesses, and that includes showing a propensity for diversity and working on positive immigration reform. In order to be successful, we need to create unity, not discord.
Political posturing, like the one exhibited by Rep. Kavanagh, only serves to keep us on a negative course while solutions to real problems take a back seat. Until genuine discussions about the condition of our economy and community issues take a turn for the positive, Arizona citizens, particularly children, will continue to suffer.
Clearly, many in Arizona’s state senate expect people to pull it and haul it themselves—unless you actually live your life, then they want to have every say on how you do so.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel