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NAPABA Convention & Civil Rights Issues in Arizona

Dear Members,

As many of you know, NAPABA's Annual Convention is scheduled to take place in Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona in November 2014. Some of you have expressed concerns about our location given the legislation passed by the Arizona legislature last week that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT patrons under the banner of religious freedom. Others have previously expressed concerns about Arizona's anti-immigrant policies, such as SB1070. I write to let you know that I share these concerns about Arizona and take them seriously.

Because of the fundamental issues of justice involved and because of our organization's longstanding support of the civil rights of all Americans, I was deeply disappointed to learn of this Arizona bill that could be used to discriminate against members of the LGBT community and others in the name of religion. For many years, NAPABA has been a champion of LGBT equality through direct advocacy and participation in amicus briefs and state referendum campaigns. NAPABA has also been a strong opponent of anti-immigrant policies, including racial profiling and voter disenfranchisement, through lobbying of elected officials and participation in amicus briefs to challenge SB1070 in Arizona and copycat legislation around the country.

Our members and coalition partners in Arizona need our support to ensure that their state is open and welcoming to all people. Our current plans for the Convention include a legislative training session that will be free to all local advocacy groups and legislative visits where we can support local members as they discuss immigrant rights and LGBT equality with their elected officials. The CLE schedule and plenary sessions will cover civil rights topics relevant to immigrants and the LGBT community. Should we keep the Convention in Arizona, we will commit to working only with businesses that are welcoming to immigrants, members of the LGBT community, and all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or sexual orientation.

NAPABA has issued a press release condemning the anti-LGBT legislation and urging Governor Brewer to veto the bill. I will be following up with a letter to the Governor to directly urge her to veto the legislation and to explain to her the harmful effects that it will have on her state, its economy, and its citizens. I am taking other steps to publicize this shameful legislation in order to pressure the Governor to veto it. I am hopeful that Governor Brewer will do what is right for her state and for the nation.


Bill Simonitsch


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