National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
1612 K Street NW, Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2014
Contact: Emily Chatterjee
NAPABA CONDEMNS ARIZONA LEGISLATION THAT BOLSTERS
BUSINESSES' ABILITY TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE
Calls on Governor Jan Brewer to veto bill
WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar
Association (NAPABA) strongly urges Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto
legislation passed by the Arizona state legislature last Thursday that,
under the guise of religious freedom, would enable discrimination
against individuals who identify as LGBT.
"NAPABA has a long-standing commitment to supporting
the civil rights of all members of our community, including our LGBT
brothers and sisters," said William J. Simonitsch, president of NAPABA.
"While NAPABA respects the sincerely held religious beliefs of all
people, religion has unfortunately been misused by some historically as
an excuse to oppress people of color and people of other religions. For
many it justified slavery, segregation, and the criminalizing of
interracial marriages. The employment of a religious justification to
now excuse the discrimination of LGBT people is just as reprehensible."
If Governor Brewer does not veto Arizona House Bill
2153/Senate Bill 1062 by this coming Friday, Arizona will soon allow
individuals and for-profit corporations to discriminate against anyone
if they claim to be acting in the name of their religious convictions.
This includes refusing services to members of the LGBT community and
denying equal benefits to women in the workplace. On its face, it could
be used as justification for discriminating against anyone, on any
grounds, so long as a free religious exercise claim is asserted.
"As a long-time citizen of Arizona and as a former
President of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association, I believe that
this bill does not represent our state, and we categorically denounce
this and all legislation targeting disenfranchised groups, including the
LGBT and immigrant communities," said George C. Chen, president-elect
of NAPABA. "Religious freedom is an important part of our society, but
this bill is about legalizing discrimination, not about religious
freedom. Governor Brewer needs to veto this bill."
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.