The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition by conservative lawmakers charging that Governor Janet Napolitano overstepped her gubernatorial authority when she signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation for state workers. Passed last June, the measure-which applies to state workers in the executive branch-also stipulates that employees who harass others based on sexual orientation may be terminated. Napolitano‘s camp was pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision, and Chief lead counsel Tim Nelson appeared confident the order would stand. “I don’t know that the Legislature can impede on the executive branch in that way, he said, according to Capitol Media Services.
The Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund filed the lawsuit on behalf of six Republican lawmakers. One of the plaintiffs, Rep. Doug Quelland (R-Phoenix) told CMS, “The people in my district don’t consider it discrimination.” The executive order could still face challenges in the lower courts, or it may be overruled in the Legislature, with a veto-proof majority, according to PlanetOut. Similar executive orders have been signed in six other states and President Clinton signed a measure in 1998 banning discrimination based on sexual orientation for federal workers, according to Lambda Legal Defense, reported PlanetOut.