Arizona Republicans wage culture war in battleground state

Arizona is a fertile ground for social conservatives. It has some of the most restrictive laws in America against abortion, and it has a history of restricting LGBTQ rights.

Arizona Republicans wage culture war in battleground state

This hasn't changed despite Republican dominance waning over the past five year. It was made clear this week by strict measures targeted at abortion as well as the rights for transgender young adults.

Andi Young, parent of a transgender teenage girl and co-chairperson of the board for GLSEN Phoenix (an advocacy group that promotes inclusive education), stated, "It's just became a political wedge issue that legislators use to get more voters and it's not fair."

Three bills passed by GOP lawmakers in Arizona's party-line vote Thursday brought Arizona into the national culture warfare. They ban abortion after 15 weeks and prohibit transgender girls playing on girls sports teams.

These measures are popular among the conservative base of states where Republicans control but may be risky for battleground states where Democrats have made substantial inroads.

As the bills have moved through the Legislature, Arizona Republicans have not actively promoted them. During emotional debates in Congress, few GOP lawmakers supported the bills.

This is not surprising to Mike Noble, an ex-Republican political consultant who does nonpartisan polling throughout the Southwest from Phoenix.

These are clear issues that need to be addressed in order for the base to get going. Noble stated that the base is already firing up. "I believe what you're doing, I think, is giving the other party, who doesn’t have much reason to turn out to vote, a reason now to come out and vote for these midterm elections."

Since Donald Trump's 2016 election, Arizona has seen Democrats become more successful than ever. In 2018, Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema were elected to the Senate. President Joe Biden was the second Democrat to win the state's electoral vote since Harry Truman. Democrats hold a majority in the U.S. House and two of five top state offices. The Republican legislative majority has dwindled to a mere minimum.

This backdrop could make Kelly's election this year pivotal for the GOP's chances of winning a majority at the U.S. Senate.

Republican Gov. has the final say on whether or not to sign the bills. Doug Ducey has been quiet. Both sides of the issue quickly moved to press Ducey to sign or veto the bills.

Ducey is opposed to abortion rights and is widely expected sign the bill. Although he has a less favorable record in transgender issues than his counterparts, he has sometimes resisted the social conservatives of his party when it comes to issues that affect the LGBTQ community.

He vetoed a bill that would have prohibited all discussions in classrooms about gender identity, sexual orientation, or HIV/AIDS last year without parental consent. Later, he signed a modified version.

"Governor Ducey must veto these hateful laws; lives are in balance," Kell Olson (staff attorney for the LGBTQ rights group Lambda Legal in Tucson) stated in a statement.

Cathi Herrod of Center for Arizona Policy, the social conservative leader, also criticized an email alert sent to supporters by the group urging them to contact Ducey to press him to sign the bill on sports participation.

Herrod wrote, "LET'S STAND UP ARIZONA WOMENS SPORTS!"

Florida and Arizona could join Mississippi in banning abortions for 15 weeks. Nearly a dozen girls are not allowed to participate in girl sports. Texas Governor. Greg Abbott directed state officials to investigate child abuse of gender-affirming care. Arkansas banned it under a bill similar in spirit to Arizona's. Courts put both directives on hold. The governor is expected to act on a Florida bill that would prohibit classroom instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation prior to fourth grade. This bill, critics call the "Don’t Say Gay” bill.

This week, the Republican governors of Utah (and Indiana) vetoed bills that would have banned transgender girls from playing girls sports. They called it virtually nonexistent in their respective states. Both could be overridden by Utah's Republican legislator , who are preparing for a Friday vote.

According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, 16 high school athletes in Arizona have been granted waivers to participate on a team that is compatible with their gender identity.

"I will never stop fighting for women. I will never stop standing up for women. I will continue to speak out for women. Rusty Bowers, House Speaker, stated that his support for the bill was reflected in Rusty Bowers' declaration of support.

According to Democratic Rep. Cesar Chaz, it's the adults who get obsessed with the gender of children playing sports.

Chavez stated that this is not a problem to these children. "But it's a problem to these individuals who feel they're losing an antiquated political system."


 

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