Hobbs’ First Executive Order Prohibits Gender Identity Discrimination

January 5, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Governor Katie Hobbs’ first executive order prohibits gender identity discrimination in state employment and contracts.

The order directs the Department of Administration to establish procedures by April 1, 2023 regarding gender identity discrimination. The order also directed the department to launch awareness campaigns throughout state government through internal communications and trainings.


Hobbs’ order declared that over 40 percent of LGBTQ+ individuals nationwide report “unfair treatment” at work, such as firings, harassment, or not being hired due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. The order also noted that 83 percent of the Fortune 500 companies prohibit gender identity discrimination; those numbers came directly from a Human Rights Campaign report

The 40 percent estimate appears to have originated from a 2021 study from a UCLA Law think tank. Their survey covered just over 900 LGBTQ+ adults about their lifetime, five-year, and past-year discrimination experiences. 46 percent of these respondents reported experiencing unfair treatment at some point in their lives, with just nine percent experiencing discrimination in 2021. 

The think tank estimated that about 8 million American workers identify as LGBTQ+ — if nine percent of that estimate experienced discrimination in 2021, that would amount to just over 720,000 people. Other activist groups’ estimates place the total LGBTQ+ population at a much higher number: over 20 million. 

Hobbs’ order could be viewed as a natural progression of policy initiated by a 2020 Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision.

Former attorney general Mark Brnovich interpreted existing anti-discrimination protections to include both sexual orientation and gender identity in a 2020 filing for the case Bruer v. State of Arizona. His filing followed the SCOTUS decision in Bostock v. Clayton County which determined that employers can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Brnovich said that the state legislature would have to amend the Arizona Civil Rights Act to exclude sexual orientation and gender identity specifically if they disagreed with this interpretation.

The state already prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in a 2003 executive order issued by former Governor Janet Napolitano — the last Democrat elected as governor prior to Hobbs. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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