National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
1612 K Street NW, Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2014
Contact: Emily Chatterjee
NAPABA SUPPORTS GOVERNOR BREWER'S VETO OF HATEFUL ANTI-LGBT BILL
Remains Vigilant As Similar Bills Are Proposed In Other States
WASHINGTON — Last night, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, legislation that would have enabled businesses to disregard municipal ordinances under the banner of religious freedom, and allowed them to discriminate against individuals who identify as LGBT.
"Governor Brewer's decision to veto SB 1062 is a victory for everyone who opposes discrimination and supports the civil rights of all Americans, including those of our LGBT brothers and sisters, but it is disheartening that hateful legislation like this ever reached her desk," said William J. Simonitsch, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). "Religious claims have been asserted in the past to justify slavery, segregation, and bans on interracial marriage. On Tuesday, we sent the Governor and other Arizona leaders a letter outlining our opposition to this latest religious justification for discrimination. We let them know that if the Governor allowed SB 1062 to become law, NAPABA would consider relocating its Annual Convention in November out of Phoenix/Scottsdale."
Were it not for Governor Brewer's veto Wednesday evening, Arizona would have been the first state to enact legislation enabling corporations and individuals to deny services simply by asserting that they were acting because of a "sincerely held religious belief." Supporters of the bill did not hide the fact that this bill targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. SB 1062 would have undercut the non-discrimination ordinances that include sexual orientation passed by several Arizona municipalities. Other states that are considering or have recently considered similar legislation include Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Missouri, Ohio, and Idaho.
"We won this round, but we must remain vigilant in Arizona and elsewhere because many states have contemplated or are contemplating bills similar in nature to SB 1062, and may do so again in the future," said Arizona attorney George C. Chen, president-elect of NAPABA. "Religious freedom is important, but discrimination under the guise of religious freedom is not acceptable anywhere in our nation. At the same time, we need to support the work of many cities in Arizona (including Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff) that have passed non-discrimination ordinances regarding sexual orientation. Individuals, corporations, professional organizations, and many others in these communities strongly opposed SB 1062, and it was in large part due to their efforts that pressure was brought to bear on Governor Brewer."
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 67 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.