The Arizona you see on television does not reflect the state I know and love.
SB1062, the "Right to Discriminate" legislation passed last week by Republicans in the Arizona State Senate and House, represents the worst kind of politics and governance, the kind based on fear and division. It would allow anyone -- from businesses to employers -- to openly discriminate against LGBT Arizonans under the guise of protecting religious freedoms. The Republican legislators that passed the bill fear change. They know that today they hold the keys to the legislature -- with majorities in both houses -- and also the governor's office, but that their run of unchecked power won't last.
I see this change happening every day in Arizona. The last time the national news paid this much attention to Arizona was four years ago in 2010, when Republicans passed another piece of legislation based on fear and division, targeting Arizona's immigrant and Latino communities. When Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070 into law, young DREAMers in our state began to organize and work in Arizona politics. Their parents brought them here from Mexico to the United States as children to pursue the American Dream. They only know Arizona as their home despite our country's broken immigration policies and Arizona Republican efforts to exclude them and their families from our communities. They've knocked on thousands and thousands of doors over the last four years. They successfully recalled State Senator Russell Pearce, the Republican sponsor of SB1070.
They fought to elect my friends Danny Valenzuela and Kate Gallego to the Phoenix City Council -- Danny the first Latino councilmember to represent his district, and Kate the first woman ever to serve in her district. These elected officials have helped Phoenix become a progressive bright spot in Arizona, the Phoenix City Council has a perfect score on the Human Right's Campaign's Municipal Equality Index. The City Council has a progressive majority because of these young DREAMers and their commitment to fight for a more just and equal Arizona. An impressive group of these DREAMers now work and volunteer on my campaign for the Arizona State Senate. They remind me every day of the change happening across my state.
So it doesn't surprise me to see the Republicans in the Arizona legislature pass divisive legislation like SB1062. They see the change coming too, and know their absolute control of Arizona governance won't last much longer. Instead of moderating their party in preparation for this change, they've doubled-down on a conservative Tea Party agenda, full of social wedge issues. These Republicans in Arizona's legislature do not represent the views of the Arizona I know, and their actions will result in long-term negative consequences for our state and their own party. Republican Governor Jan Brewer still has a chance to mitigate some of this damage and has until Friday to veto SB1062. I hope she does. Even if you don't live in Arizona, I urge you to call her and ask her to protect LGBT Arizonans by vetoing SB1062.
You should also know the name of Senator Steve Yarbrough, the prime sponsor of SB1062. I believe that if we can recall Russell Pearce after he sponsored SB1070 to target Arizona's Latino community, then we should give Mr. Yarbrough the same attention for his attack on Arizona's LGBT community. Elections matter.
If it shocks you to see this type of legislation in the United States of America in the year 2014, then I encourage you to send money to Arizona. Send it to the Arizona Democratic Party. Send it to nonprofit organizations focused on voter registration. Send it to progressives candidates fighting for change and equality in Arizona. We need it. The Republicans fear change in Arizona, but it will happen. We have history on our side. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Help us bend it. Stand with those of us who reject the politics of fear and division. Stand with those of us fighting for equality in Arizona.
Follow Aaron Marquez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Aaron4Arizona