Equality advances for LGBTQ Arizonans
Arizona’s Governor Katie Hobbs issued two executive orders on June 27 that aims to provide further protections for LGBTQ Arizonans.
The two orders, executive orders 2023-12 and 2023-13, will ensure gender-affirming care is covered under state health plans and also prohibit state and federal agencies from supporting, promoting, or funding “conversion therapy” for minors.
“Our LGBTQ+ community should never have to face hate and discrimination, and I will do everything in my power to fight for full equality,” Governor Hobbs said. “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.”
By issuing executive order 2023-13, Governor Hobbs is removing a previous ban on gender-affirming surgery for transgender state employees. In response to this landmark order, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plans to file a motion with the court to approve a final class settlement in its case Toomey v. State of Arizona, a 2019 lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Arizona, ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project, and law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, that originally challenged the exclusion of gender-affirming care from state employees’ health care plan.
“Today’s executive order by Governor Hobbs provides unexplainable relief and care to the state-sanctioned suffering that I and other transgender Arizonans have endured for several years,” Dr. Russell Toomey, the lead plaintiff in the case said. “I see this action as hope that our collective future in Arizona is one that allows trans people, like myself, to live lives full of joy and unrestricted opportunity.”
“Governor Hobbs used her executive pen to take bold, and most importantly, life-saving action. Not only were trans state employees categorically denied gender-affirming healthcare, but they were also denied the opportunity to even demonstrate why such surgery is medically necessary,” Christine Wee, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Arizona said. “We look forward to filing a proposed settlement and finally achieving equal healthcare coverage for all state employees.”
Governor Hobbs has recently vetoed several discriminatory bills attacking LGBTQ Arizonans. On June 9, she vetoed SB 1040, which would have banned trans students and school employees from using school restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. Her veto also prevented people from having the ability to sue schools if they share a restroom or similar school facility with a trans person.
Governor Hobbs also vetoed SB 1001 at the end of May, which would have made it illegal for teachers and other school employees to use the pronouns of a trans or non-binary student without written parental permission. And in April, SB 1005 was vetoed by Gov. Hobbs, which, if passed, would have left schools open to the threat of litigation for providing supportive and affirming spaces for LGBTQ students.
“This is what it looks like to have a champion for equality in office,” Bridget Sharpe, Human Rights Campaign Arizona State Director said. “These executive orders are a crucial step in addressing discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, particularly children. No matter who they are or who they love, all Arizonans deserve access to high-quality, best practice healthcare and to live their lives authentically. Thank you Governor Hobbs for your unwavering support of our community.”