FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 24, 2014
Contact: Emily Chatterjee (202) 775-9555
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.