OAN’s Brooke Mallory
3:54 PM – Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Executive orders that were signed by Arizona Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs will strengthen safeguards for LGBTQ Arizonans by granting state employees access to sex-reassignment surgery and prohibiting any official engagement in conversion therapy.
The governor’s most recent executive actions, which were announced on Tuesday, direct the agency in charge of state employee health insurance plans to remove a 2017 prohibition on coverage for “gender-affirming surgery”, as well as to prohibit state agencies from promoting or supporting “conversion therapy,” a scientifically discredited practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation.
“The state is leading by example on this issue, and we will continue working until Arizona is a place where every individual can participate equally in our economy and our workforce without fear of discrimination or exclusion. This is the only way to move our state forward,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs made the announcement at a press conference at Oneten, a central Phoenix charity that claims to help LGBTQ+ youth. While various equality and civil rights organizations applauded the governor’s actions, many conservative residents expressed annoyance and even threatened legal action.
The limitation on sex-reassignment surgery in the state health insurance plan had already been a challenging topic in the state’s courtrooms.
Russell Toomey, a transgender professor at the University of Arizona, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint in 2019 alleging that denying coverage for “medically required” surgery violated his civil rights protected by federal law and the U.S. Constitution. A settlement is still in the works, according to court documents, and the ACLU said on Tuesday that it will strive to ultimately end the issue following Hobbs’ ruling.
The ruling approving the state’s provision of insurance coverage for sex-reassignment surgery contains a provision prohibiting state entities from participating in civil or criminal prosecutions in other jurisdictions where such healthcare is forbidden.
It also adds that Hobbs’ administration would not assist with any extradition requests from other states where individuals might face punishment for seeking sex-reassignment surgeries and hormones.
The exact scope of Hobbs’ order is still unclear to many. While Hobbs’ representatives claim that the orders exclude any future prosecutions or restrictions on healthcare, Hobbs and her administration have been unable to offer an example of public resources or funding supporting “conversion therapy.”
It is also uncertain how many of the state’s 35,000 workers will take advantage of the executive order and pursue sex-reassignment surgery.
Leftists and liberals applauded Hobbs’ decision as a turning point in LGBTQ efforts at the highest levels of state government.
“This is what it looks like to have a champion for equality in office,” said Bridget Sharpe, state director of the Arizona arm of the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights organization.
These new executive orders come after Hobbs recently made the news for vetoing a bill that would have made it illegal to facilitate or record sexually-explicit conduct in public places, like children’s public school classrooms and government buildings.
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