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Progress in Arizona: state mulls DPs, Scottsdale adds LGBT protections

Two big items in John McCain’s home state. Wonder if he’ll have any comment about this — Arizona Considers DP Benefits for State Employees.

The change in policy, supported by Gov. Janet Napolitano, would apply to about 65,000 current employees of the state government and public universities as well as about 9,000 retirees covered by the state’s health plan.

“It’s something that most of the other private corporations and large cities are doing, and it’s time state government started doing it,” Tim Nelson, general counsel to the governor, told the Republic. “It’s something the governor believes strongly is the right thing to do.”

And you know that didn’t set well with the bible beaters. Daddy D’s Citizenlink urges people to go to its action center to “protect traditional marriage and oppose domestic-partner benefits.”

The public has 30 days to comment on the plan, which will be decided by a six-member board appointed by Gov. Janet Napolitano. Representatives for the governor said she supports the proposal.

“It’s inappropriate. I will support no such thing,” Rep. Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican and chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, told the newspaper. “This is absolutely outrageous.”

Domestic partnership benefits  are already available in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Tucson. To add insult to injury to the professional “Christian” set, this news must have them bristling…

Scottsdale now joins Tucson in protecting its LGBT workers.

After hearing emotional testimony from both sides of a controversial issue, the Scottsdale City Council on Tuesday narrowly voted to extend the city’s equal employment protection to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

“I see there is a need for doing this, absolutely,” said Councilwoman Betty Drake, who was part of the 4-3 majority to revise the city’s employment code. “I think it all boils down to leadership.”

Councilmen Jim Lane, Ron McCullagh and Tony Nelssen voted against the move, saying that it would be expensive and burdensome and would open the city to a whole new realm of litigation. “This seems to be a solution in search of a problem,” McCullagh said. “I think this goes a long way to explain why Scottsdale is the West’s Most Overstaffed Town.”

While the move was hailed as an “historic vote” by Equality Arizona Executive Director Barbara McCullough, it was meant to be one small step towards a much broader ordinance that had the caught the attention of local civil rights groups.

Of course the fundies trotted out to complain…

Peter Gentala, general counsel for The Center for Arizona Policy, said, “homosexual behavior is not immutable or unchangeable. The city should not take sides in a cultural debate. This ordinance does take sides.”

On the matter of the city addressing discrimination by private employers and contractors that offer public accommodations, there was resistance; that portion of the package was tabled indefinitely.

Even so, there was much to celebrate in the only state to defeat a marriage amendment. Equality Arizona Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones:

“We congratulate the Scottsdale City Council for joining countless other private and public sector employers in adoption a policy to ensure equal protection for their employees, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Despite facing strong opposition, Scottsdale’s elected officials demonstrated leadership by putting into policy the inclusive practices of this diverse city.

“Tonight we celebrate with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and our allies, in Scottsdale and throughout Arizona.  A broad collaboration of civil rights, faith, business and community leaders united in this effort to ensure all people are guaranteed equality.  We are grateful to those who supported our efforts, and look forward to strengthening our relationships with our allies as we continue to advance the movement for equality in Arizona.”

You should also check out the comments in response to the article at AZCentral.

Related:

* Reality-Denier Alert: ‘Arizona Policy’ in a Tizzy

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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