Commentary: Some in Scottsdale want to profit from, but not protect LGBTQ community

On March 23, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, in partnership with City of Scottsdale Office of Diversity and the Scottsdale Human Relations Commission, will host its inaugural Out@SMoCA event welcoming the LGBTQ community for an evening of art and conversation. Without a doubt, it will be a fun-filled evening with thought-provoking conversation.

Angela Hughey

Angela Hughey

However, this event comes barely a month after the city of Scottsdale decided not to move forward with a fully inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that would have granted equal protections to gay and transgender people in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations. So while the city wants to profit from gay and transgender people, sadly, not all of Scottsdale leadership wants to protect them. While it wants to build a culture of inclusiveness, it doesn’t want to codify it.

Some in Scottsdale want to have their cake and eat it too. Scottsdale is my City. I graduated from Saguaro High. The fact that the city I grew-up in doesn’t want to provide me with equal protections is a burden I carry. And, while I wish I could say the situation is unique to Scottsdale, it’s not.

Only five municipalities in Arizona have fully inclusive non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people. Meaning, in a majority of the state my wife and I can be refused service at a restaurant, denied a hotel room, and — if we didn’t work for ourselves — be fired from our jobs simply because of who we are and who we love. That’s not the Arizona I want to live in; that’s not the Arizona I know and love — we are better than that.

That’s why it’s time for a statewide solution. We need to update our state’s current non-discrimination laws to include gay and transgender people. So that my wife and I don’t have to wonder if we are in a city where we are legally protected from discrimination. Our rights shouldn’t depend on our zip code. We’re not asking for special protections — we’re asking for equal protections.

The fact of the matter is, updating our laws isn’t just important for gay and transgender Arizonans, but for all Arizonans. If we want to live in a state that grows by attracting the very best talent, has a strong economy, and is a vibrant place to live, then we must also be open for business to everyone.

So if you believe the same, please join me and over 1,500 businesses and organizations like the Arizona Diamondbacks, Yelp, Coca-Cola, Uber, as well as Councilwomen Virginia Korte and Linda Milhaven and more in signing the Unity Pledge. You can learn more and sign the pledge at www.OPENAZ.co.

I hope you join me in helping to create an Arizona that is truly Open for Business to Everyone.

Editor’s note: Ms. Hughey is president and co-founder of ONE Community

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