52 years after Stonewall, a new call to action

We believe that Pride — observed this month to mark the Stonewall Uprising of June 28th, 1969 — is both a celebration and a call to action. We delight in the size and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community while coalescing around the struggle for justice.

52 years ago, this meant rapidly organizing to protect LGBTQ+ communities against violence at the hands of authorities.

Such organization is still meaningful today, but much more of it than ever takes place on the systemic level. In Arizona, this involves opposing a deluge of bills dropped at the state Legislature targeting LGBTQ+ people for discrimination.

It also means advocating for laws that repair the damage of institutional bigotry, such as making schools affirming environments for LGBTQ+ youth.

So 52 years after Stonewall, what is the legislative outlook for equality?

The national front

Advocates claim this is the worst year for state legislative attacks against LGBTQ people in history.

This year, the Equality Federation has recorded that legislatures nationwide have altogether introduced:

  • 337 anti-LGBTQ+ bills
  • 150 anti-transgender bills
  • 75 bills discriminating against transgender athletes
  • 40 bills discriminating against LGBTQ+ people in healthcare

So far this year, eight bills discriminating against LGBTQ+ people have been signed into law, and another 10 are sitting on governors’ desks awaiting signatures, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

The passage of these bills would mean that states will have enacted more anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2021 alone than in the last three years combined.

What is Arizona’s part in all this?

We recently did a roundup of the current numbers:

  • 4 bills were introduced protecting “conversion therapy” (SB1269, SB1325, SB1482, SB1426)
  • 3 bills sought to silence LGBTQ+ in schools through sex education restrictions (HB2035, HB2184, SB1456)
  • 2 bills discriminated against trans people on government documents (HB2709, HB2725)
  • 1 bill would have introduced invasive restrictions on transgender student athletes (HB1637)
  • 1 bill sought to grant sweeping legal immunities based on “religious freedom” — exempting organizations from anti-discrimination ordinances, bans on conversion therapy, and more (HB2648)
  • 5 bills expanded the school voucher program, which sends public money to schools that may discriminate against LGBTQ+ people (HB2503, SB1118, SB1273, SB1452, SB1513)

Thankfully, so far none of these bills have been signed into law — though school erasure bill SB1456 came close, and several others are still in play.

What about pro-LGBTQ+ legislation?

Not all LGBTQ-centric bills introduced at the Legislature this year were negative. In fact, a similar number sought to expand rights for queer and trans people. However, unlike the above list, each was shut down quickly by the Legislative majority:

  • 4 bills sought to create statewide non-discrimination policy (HB2653, HB2744, SB1425, HB2642)
  • 3 bills would have created pathways to equality in state-issued documents for trans people (SB1162, HB2655, SB1163)
  • 3 bills promoted LGBTQ+ equality in school curricula (SB1317, HB2647, SB1340)
  • 2 bills sought to lower rates of anti-trans hate crimes (SB1424, HB2610)
  • 2 bills would have made the practice of “conversion therapy” an act of professional misconduct (HB2487, SB1426)
  • 1 bill would have established a task force addressing societal inequities for trans people (HB2652)
  • 1 bill was aimed at reducing bathroom-based discrimination (HB2743)

This outlook at the Legislature demands united action. Public opinion is increasingly on the side of LGBTQ+ equality. But will these changing attitudes be enough to stop the current wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation from becoming law?

So far, the answer is no. Because attitudes don’t create change. Actions do.

So before Pride month wraps, let’s make sure we’ve done more than celebrate. Let’s make sure we’re taking measurable actions to advance equality.

Here are groups that we partner with, both locally and nationally, in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality. We encourage you to visit their websites and support their very important work.

Equality Federation
Equality Arizona
Human Rights Campaign
One Arizona
Aunt Rita’s

The first wave of LGBTQ+ activism turned into tsunami 52 years ago at Stonewall. We’re being called on to create the next big surge today.