Arizona Businesses Come Together to Defeat Discriminatory Legislation

Thousands of Arizona businesses organized to defeat discriminatory legislation, prioritizing equity for all Arizona citizens and declaring themselves “Open for Business for Everyone.”

Themes: Co-Create Policy

We all followed the controversial Arizona Bill SB 1062 that sought to legalize the right of Arizona businesses to refuse service based on religious beliefs – it headlined every major news publication – The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesMSNBC, and more, for several days.  Many believe this legislation was aimed at discrimination towards the LGBTQ community, and at the very least, would have been greatly damaging to the nation’s perception of Arizona’s local business economy.

At the center of the action was BALLE Local Economy Fellow Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona.  When this bill began making its way through the Arizona state legislature, Local First Arizona started building a coalition of other business groups in the state to oppose the law.  Nearly every major business group in Arizona – from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association to the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce  – joined the coalition and helped the nation rally against this bill.

“It’s great to see the business community joining together to oppose this harmful piece of legislation,” said Kimber. “We believe that Governor Brewer will make the right decision for the economic future of Arizona and veto SB 1062.” She was right.  The bill was vetoed quickly by the governor, and in a show of solidarity, thousands of Arizona businesses have declared themselves “Open For Business For Everyone.”

In response to the situation in Arizona, BALLE Fellow Anthony Flaccavento shared his perspective in this thoughtful Huffington Post article.

In just over a week, Kimber played a critical role in organizing every large business organization in Arizona and over 350 businesses of all sizes against this legislation, a wonderful example of the power of convening and the critical role backbone organizations like Local First Arizona play in supporting local economies.

Read Local First Arizona’s press release about Senate Bill 1062.