Opinion: Without law, not everyone is welcome here in Scottsdale

I am a proud Arizonan and the product of a world-class education from Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain High School IB Program.

I earned a BA from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and I am currently studying law at Duke University. I plan to practice corporate law and will draw on several years of professional experience in international development to help American businesses expand into the rapidly growing markets of the Global South.

But I am not coming home.

Current Arizona law affords no employment or housing protections for members of the LGBT communities. As both a young professional at the beginning of my career, and a gay man, I am seeking a place to live and work that has demonstrated a meaningful and substantive commitment to anti-discrimination and equality.

I was disappointed to learn that the City of Scottsdale declined to make such a commitment by refusing to enact an ordinance to prevent discrimination against the LGBT communities.

Though the city’s emphasis on its “Unity Pledge” is commendable, it is not enough.

It is aspirational: a statement of what the community hopes to be, not what it is. This is no comfort to someone whose application for an apartment can be denied or job terminated on the basis of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Only the force of the law’s protection — the same protection extended on the basis of other immutable characteristics like race and sex — can provide this peace of mind. Not until I feel this security can I come home.

And I am not alone. My friends who left Arizona to study at some of the nation’s best universities, both gay and straight, are anxious to see our hometown extend the legal protections we consider the true signal of a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Scottsdale is losing out on the brilliant educators, economists, doctors, and other professionals my friends have become by failing to grant full protections to the LGBT community.

My hometown Scottsdale should join Phoenix, Tempe and other communities in making a powerful legal commitment to equality.

Otherwise, it’s Scottsdale’s loss.

Editor’s note: Mr. Gray currently resides in Durham, N.C. His parents have been residents of Scottsdale for the past 15 years.

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