Joining a diverse group that includes tech companies, Arizona senators, and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) denounced anti-LGBT Arizona bill SB 1062, and announced that it was moving its 2015 national convention from Phoenix, Ariz.
“The HNBA views this as a civil rights issue,” said President Miguel Alexander Pozo. “As a national association of lawyers committed to promoting the ideals of equal protection, equal opportunity, tolerance, and inclusiveness, it is imperative that we speak up and take immediate action in the presence of injustice.”
Pozo also invoked Martin Luther King Jr., writing from a Birmingham, Ala., jail cell, who said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The organization called upon Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the religious freedom legislation, which many opponents say would lead to discrimination against LGBT people. Supporters of the bill, however, contend it would protect the religious freedom of individuals and businesses in the state.
As lawyers, the HNBA said, “In our view, SB 1062 violates the Equal Protection and the Commerce Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, and offends the anti-discrimination protections found in Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” according to its press release.
The HNBA’s board of governors voted unanimously to pull the annual event. HNBA told BuzzFeed previous conventions have drawn thousands of attendees and its 2014 event, which will be in Washington, D.C., expects to see a similar number.
This is not the first time Arizona has lost business because of controversial legislation.
After the stringent SB 1070 bill became law in April 2010 and was widely viewed as anti-immigrant, musicians canceled Arizona concerts, tourists canceled vacations, and other event organizers fled Arizona to hold their events in other states. Latino organizations like the National Council of La Raza were also heavily involved and many continued the boycott into 2011.
“Laws that return us to a darker time in the nation’s history simply cannot be tolerated. SB 1062 and SB 1070 are two such laws,” Pozo said.
3. UPDATE — 5 p.m. ET: JPMorgan Chase, one of Arizona’s largest employers, too, announced its opposition to the bill:
“JPMorgan Chase opposes all forms of discrimination in law and in fact,” the company said in a statement to BuzzFeed. “The bill passed by the Arizona legislature does not reflect the values of our country or the State of Arizona and should be vetoed. JPMorgan Chase is one of the largest private employers in the State of Arizona with over 11,000 employees here.”