After approving funding in 2008 for construction of a 75-unit apartment building intended for residents with hearing impairment, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has ruled that Apache ASL Trails in Tempe, Ariz., violates civil rights law, specifically HUD's Section 504 regulations. Arizona is so far defying the order to limit the number of hearing-impaired residents in the building. HUD has threatened to withdraw all federal housing money from the state.
Equal Marriage Arizona, the group leading an effort to make Arizona the 14th state with a marriage equality law, has suspended its efforts to put the issue on the ballot in 2014. Co-chair Erin Ogletree Simpson cited difficulties in securing financial backing from national advocacy groups, many of which believe the effort should be put on hold until the 2016 presidential election. "I'm just happy our effort has prompted a focus from the various groups to look at 2016 and start putting together a strategy," she said.
In a move that surprised some observers, the Supreme Court has voted 7-2 to strike down an Arizona law requiring voters to prove their citizenship, asserting the primacy of federal legislation over state election regulations. In response, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and David Vitter, R-La., announced that they would seek to include language in the immigration reform bill to specifically authorize states to pass such provisions. "We must ensure that our elections are fair and accurately reflect the will of our citizens," Cruz said.
Pending legislation in Arizona would restrict the use of gender-designated restrooms to persons with a corresponding gender on their birth certificates, an idea critics say could turn transgender people into criminals. State Sen. Nancy Barto, a Republican, said the law would require those held by police to produce birth certificates to back up claims they're using the correct restroom. "Otherwise," said state Rep. John Kavanagh, also a Republican, "you're going to go to jail, which is where you belong."
The American Civil Liberties Union is among the groups that want an appeals court to prevent the implementation of a provision requiring law enforcement officers in Arizona to check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally. Much of the immigration law that included the provision was invalidated by the Supreme Court earlier this year.