PHOENIX — On Thursday, the Department of Justice sent letters to all 50 of the nation's State Attorney's General reminding them of federal constitution and statutory provisions protecting transgender youth against discrimination.
The letter comes one day after Governor Ducey signed into law two anti-transgender bills. The DOJ warns those laws, and others like them adopted in other states, may cross the legal lines of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act and the Affordable Care Act because they limit access for transgenders in sports and health care.
“I am going to respect everyone and I’m going to respect everyone’s rights,” Ducey said. “I’m going to protect female sports. And that’s what the legislation does.”
At the capitol, many parents don't think the governor is respecting their transgender children.
"Governor Ducey signing those bills yesterday was really a punch to the gut," said Kristin Downing. Another father with a trans daughter said, "the fact we have to come here and speak out against these laws and these bills that have been passed is unfair."
Democratic State Representative Daniel Hernandez believes the transgender laws have nothing to do with empathy or fairness and everything to do with cold hard political calculus.
"What has changed now is the governor is helping get them along through the process and signing them into law because he needs their vote. He wants a Republican only budget and needs all 16 (Republican votes) in the Senate and all 31 (Republican votes) in the House," Hernandez said.
The transgender bills prohibit gender altering surgery for anyone under 18 and bans transgender girls from competing in girl sports. Both pieces of legislation passed with the Republican majority voting for them. "My colleagues in the legislature don't care if something is legal or not. They are doing it to make a point," Hernandez said. "They're trying to go back to the U.S. Supreme Court so they hopefully have a favorable outcome with the current composition of the court."
If it's a legal fight the Department of Justice wants, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he will defend the transgender laws. "Arizonans, do not tolerate radical national interests attempting to redefine our values. Our office will defend the law."