Columnists » William Kapfer

Raising Arizona

by William Kapfer
Saturday Jun 29, 2013

I may live and work in New York, but my heart, my roots and, yes, a beautiful home I own with my partner of 23 years (now my fiancé!) are in Arizona. To my great dismay, my home state has lately been acquiring a reputation as a right wing, out-of-touch backwater, as much as it hurts to say it. I'm convinced that people have reached this conclusion largely due to nationwide coverage of some of the more backward political personalities like Gov. Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. To wit, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't seen the photo of Brewer wagging her finger in the face of President Obama on an airport tarmac.

As is usually the case, however, the truth is more nuanced. People often forget that Brewer only became governor when Janet Napolitano resigned to become the first woman to serve as the United States Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) in the Obama Administration. Gov. Napolitano is quite progressive, with an excellent track record of support for diversity and inclusion, and is a great friend to the LGBT community.

While in office, Napolitano issued an executive order requiring that state employee benefits be extended to the partners of unmarried state employees (including those in the university system). Since gay marriage is non-existent in Arizona, it would be impossible for same-sex couples to have the rights to state employees' medical benefits, etc. As a result, partnered gay employees were being unfairly treated and discriminated against. Napolitano's executive order rectified this situation. Once Brewer took over as Governor, one of her first moves was to repeal the executive order providing domestic partner benefits for state workers - under the guise of needing to save the state money. A ridiculous position, since a mere 250 or so people were taking advantage of this benefit at the time.


  • , 2013-07-01 11:22:31

    Wonderful piece! Thank you Bill, Robert V. Talor

  • , 2013-07-02 18:34:23

    Wonderful piece, Bill. A big thank you to the public servants mentioned who continue to fight for quality and to the many others, including Matt Heinz. Cheers to the hope you can retire as a married man in Tucson and for many others in this wonderful, complex state.

  • , 2013-07-03 23:54:54

    Thank you for opening my eyes about Arizona and how it is progressing along with the rest of the nation. You’re so right to make these points to prevent apathy toward an entire state as "lost". Many could write off as "inflexible" a state that has so much promise. Good counter-terrorism move against the very real political hate machine that exists just to our RIGHT. -RL

  • , 2013-07-04 11:39:27

    Bill congratulations on your upcoming nuptials.. Thank you for your informative article and your much needed voice to speak out about discrimination of Gays and Lesbians..Everyone has the God given right to the pursuit of happiness.. Continue to fight the Good Fight..Beverly Johnson

  • , 2013-07-04 12:23:30

    Great piece and helpful history lesson; I often forget the Goldwater quote. Also, congratulations on your engagement - you both deserve every happiness!

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