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Arizona lawmakers launch state’s first caucus for LGBT community members


PHOENIX — Arizona lawmakers have launched the state’s first caucus that will address issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The move came on the heels of the 29th annual Coming Out Day, which took place on Wednesday.

The caucus is made up of four state legislators: Sen. Robert Meza, Reps. Daniel Hernandez and César Chávez and state legislator Tony Navarrete.

Hernandez, who represents District 2, said the lawmakers are “very excited” to launch this caucus in order to represent the state’s LGBT population.

“While we are really excited to be the face of this, we want to make sure we are not just representing the interests of gay Latinos, but also working to really bring to folks in the trans community, the bisexual and lesbian community by working with different stakeholders,” Hernandez said.

The caucus, Hernandez said, will focus on issues like employment discrimination and the state’s anti-LGBT laws, many of which were passed in the 1980s and 1990s at the height of the AIDs crisis. Those laws, he added, basically criminalized LGBT residents in Arizona.

One of the laws, for example, made it illegal to discuss LGBT people in a “healthy” or “positive” way in schools.

Hernandez said the caucus is ready to put up a fight for the LGBT community.

“It being the Arizona legislature, unfortunately, we’re going to do a lot of defense on trying to stop bills from going through,” Hernandez said.

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