Posted by ONE Community on 07/17/2017

60 Arizona businesses and key organizations support Phoenix Non-Discrimination Ordinance by filing of amicus brief with Arizona Court of Appeals

60 Arizona businesses and key organizations support Phoenix Non-Discrimination Ordinance by filing of amicus brief with Arizona Court of Appeals

Phoenix, AZ (July 17, 2017) — Prohibiting discrimination against same-sex couples is good for business and the economy, a group of 60 large and small businesses and trade associations argued today in a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the Arizona Court of Appeals.    

“Once again, the business community has demonstrated its leadership in the fight against discrimination,” said ONE Community president Angela Hughey. “We are thrilled that companies and business associations of all varieties and sizes are united in support of the City’s ordinance and for equal rights for all in places of public accommodation. ONE Community was pleased to encourage this incredible group of business leaders to defend the City of Phoenix and this critical ordinance.” 

The brief, authored by Perkins Coie LLP, was filed in support of the City of Phoenix in litigation that arose after the City amended its antidiscrimination ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation such as businesses, restaurants, and hotels, to include sexual orientation. The ordinance was challenged by a custom stationary store that contended doing business with same-sex couples would violate its right to free speech and free exercise of religion. The trial court upheld the ordinance, and the case is now before the Arizona Court of Appeals.

The brief emphasizes the importance of a tolerant environment for businesses competing for talent:

     Amici submit this brief to explain why the City of Phoenix’s antidiscrimination ordinance provides significant business and economic benefits, and why creating an exception allowing discrimination against same-sex couples based on religious beliefs would be disastrous for businesses and our economy as well as the direct victims of the discrimination.  The ordinance makes clear to current and prospective employees, customers, investors, and business partners that Phoenix is an open, inclusive and welcoming community that does not tolerate discrimination in the provision of goods and services in the marketplace.  That is important because Arizona businesses struggle to attract and retain the best employee talent to compete effectively in a national and global economy.  If, as Appellants advocate, Phoenix must allow discrimination based on religious beliefs against people who are in a same-sex relationship, businesses in this community will be at a competitive disadvantage.

     The competitive disadvantage would be all the greater because Appellants’ logic would justify widespread discrimination against other historically mistreated groups, not just same-sex couples.  Appellants argue that individuals and businesses may disobey antidiscrimination laws simply because their religious faith teaches them to discriminate.  But if that logic were correct, cab drivers in Phoenix could refuse to transport women, restaurateurs could refuse to serve interracial couples, and shop owners could refuse to provide goods and services to same-sex couples, so long as the discrimination is religiously motivated.

Click here for a list of signatories, and to read the full brief.

This is not the first time the business community has defended civil protections for LGBT individuals. In 2014, the Arizona business community united with ONE Community and organizations like it to defeat a costly bill that would have made it easier for businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers based on the owners’ religious beliefs.

Similar disputes have popped up across the United States in recent years. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from a Colorado baker with religious objections to same-sex marriage, who had lost a discrimination case for refusing to create a cake to celebrate such a union.


About ONE Community:

Since our inception in 2008, ONE Community has evolved into member-based coalition of socially responsible businesses, organizations and individuals who support diversity, inclusion and equality for all Arizonans.  We are committed to reshaping Arizona’s image through educating, empowering and connecting our diverse LGBT and allied communities on the benefits of inclusion and its direct impact on attracting and retaining top talent and businesses—and thereby, ensuring our state’s economic sustainability.

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