Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s newly-elected governor, used her first day in office to extend employment protections to LGBTQ+ state employees and contractors.
The Democrat signed an executive order on 3 January which will prevent state agencies under her control from discriminating against someone on the basis of their gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status and/or political affiliation, according to KAWC.
In a statement, Hobbs’s team said that “bold action” is needed to make the “state more affordable and sustainable.”
“To kick off her first 100 days in office, Governor Hobbs signed an executive order that reinforces federal non-discrimination laws and affirms the State’s commitment to equal employment opportunity,” they added. “This executive order underscores Governor Hobbs’ dedication to ensuring that every Arizonan has an equal opportunity to participate in the workforce.”
Murphy Hebert, a press aide to Hobbs, explained that the executive order resolves potential loopholes that exist in a 2003 one issued by Janet Napolitano.
“The order from 2003 arguably allowed the state to consider sexual orientation in hiring so long as it wasn’t the only reason for a hiring decision,” she stated. “The new executive order clarifies that discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited in all state hiring decisions.”
Hobbs has also ensured that those with a gender identity which does not match the sex they were assigned at birth are protected.
Hebert continued: “Gov. Hobbs has been all over the state and she’s been hearing from communities who say that they want a state that reflects the values and a state where they feel seen and safe.
“This executive order is one step she’s taking to ensure that everyone in Arizona knows that she is the governor for everyone and that these communities can and will be safe.”
Despite this, Cathi Herod, the president of Center for Arizona Policy, told KAWC that the order may not be enforceable.
“The Hobbs executive order appears to violate the constitutional rights of faith-based agencies,” she said, adding that “law should take precedence over any executive order”.
However, this idea was challenged by Sarah Warbelow, the legal counsel of Human Rights Coalition, who disagreed with much of what Herod said of the order.