Arizona's new governor, Democrat Katie Hobbs, has issued an executive order aimed at protecting LGBTQ+ state employees and contractors from job discrimination.
Hobbs signed the order shortly after being sworn in Monday. Arizona is one of nearly 30 states without an LGBTQ-inclusive antidiscrimination law.
Hobbs's order directs the Arizona Department of Administration to establish policies to be used by all state agencies to assure there is no discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to race, sex, religion, pregnancy, disability, veteran status, and other factors. It also calls for the nondiscrimination provision to be included in all state contracts or subcontracts.
The Human Rights Campaign praised the move. "The Human Rights Campaign was proud to work alongside countless other LGBTQ+ organizations and allies to help Katie Hobbs become Arizona's governor," said a statement from HRC Arizona State Director Bridget Sharpe. "She ran on the promise that she would immediately act to stop the attacks on Arizona's LGBTQ+ individuals and families and use the full extent of her power to protect our community. On her first day in office, she took an important step towards fulfilling that commitment by signing an executive order providing nondiscrimination for LGBTQ+ state employees and state contractors. This is what it looks like to have a champion for equality in office. We can't wait to work with the Hobbs administration to move our state forward."
The order signals that Hobbs's administration will be far different from that of her predecessor, Republican Doug Ducey. Ducey, for instance, last year signed bills into law that restricted the rights of transgender youth -- one banning gender-affirming surgery for trans minors and one barring trans girls and women from participating in female sports in grades K-12 or colleges and universities, in either public schools or private ones whose students or teams compete against public schools. Genital surgery is almost never performed on minors, although top surgery sometimes is, but in any case, the legislation interferes with private medical decisions, opponents say. The law does allow hormone treatment and puberty blockers.
Hobbs, formerly Arizona's secretary of state, beat Republican Kari Lake, a former TV news anchor, in the governor's race, as Ducey was term-limited. Lake, an ally of Donald Trump, ran on an anti-LGBTQ+ platform, including vilification of drag queens. During the campaign, Richard Stevens, who performs in drag under the name Barbara Seville, called Lake out for hypocrisy, as Lake had attended Seville's shows and had been friendly with the performer.
Arizona has also elected its first out attorney general. Democrat Kris Mayes, a gay woman, was sworn in as AG Monday. Her margin of victory over Republican Abraham Hamadeh was so small -- 280 votes -- that it triggered an automatic recount, but the recount confirmed her victory. Mayes was previously a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates businesses in the state.