Election 2022: Arizona’s Candidates on the Record on LGBTQ Issues

Photo: Mark Kelly (D) (above, left) and Blake Masters (R) (above, right)

By GLAAD | October 13, 2022

In the 2022 midterm contest, election denial narratives began before the primary polls were even closed. Primary voters in Arizona chose election deniers as their Republican nominees for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state, making Arizona a battleground state with “Big Lie” proponents in all three top statewide races.

Equality Arizona and GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, are releasing the LGBTQ and equality records of Arizona’s candidates for U.S. Senate and other candidates for critical statewide offices. Nevadans can register to vote in person or online up to election day, November 8, although the deadline to register by mail has now passed.

More than a quarter million LGBTQ people live in Arizona. Twenty-five percent of LGBTQ people in Arizona are raising children. Analysis shows LGBTQ voters played a deciding role in the 2020 election, electing pro-equality candidates to the White House and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly to the U.S. Senate, flipping the Senate to a pro-equality majority. This year marks an historic run for an LGBTQ person for Arizona statewide office. If elected, Kris Mayes would be the first out attorney general in Arizona history. 

The Senate passed legislation to improve the lives of LGBTQ people in Arizona including nearly $75 billion in COVID-19 reliefinfrastructure investments with billions to improve roadways, bridges, public transportation, and ports of entry, as well as for wildfire management, broadband access, and tribal water projects; the first significant gun safety reform in 30 years; the largest climate and clean energy investments in history; veterans’ health benefits; limits to prescription drug prices; and new investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Efforts are on hold in the Senate for marriage equality and The Equality Act protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. The results of the midterm elections will determine whether these measures, supported by a majority of all Americans, move forward. 

GLAAD urges the media to include LGBTQ issues in their questions to candidates, and consider them when covering the campaign. Research on the candidates’ records on abortion is also included, as abortion is an LGBTQ issue. Notably, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurrence overturning Roe v. Wade that landmark decisions protecting the rights of LGBTQ Americans should also be reconsidered.

Statement from Jeanne Woodbury, Equality Arizona: “In every statewide race on the ballot, the contrast between candidates on questions of bodily autonomy, abortion rights, and LGBTQ+ equality could not be clearer. The consequences of this election for women and LGBTQ+ people could not be more profound. We encourage Arizona voters to take a serious look at the values of each candidate, and to take a stand for equality with their votes this Fall.”

Statement from Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO: 

“This research shows the LGBTQ records of candidates, including disturbing intersections between anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric with other extremist beliefs and behavior, like denying the results of the 2020 election, as well as bans on abortion that restrict the rights of all Arizona families. It’s critical that voters and reporters understand these records.”

Research on the candidates’ LGBTQ records includes:

U.S. Senate

Mark Kelly (D), Incumbent (above, left)

  • Co-sponsored the Equality Act (S.393), which would protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in areas including housing, public accommodations, employment, education, credit, and federal funding.
  • Co-sponsored the International Human Rights Defense Act (S.424) to establish in the U.S. State Department a permanent Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTQI Peoples to ensure human rights are upheld for the community internationally. 
  • Co-sponsored the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act (S.2242) to prohibit commercial conversion therapy, a practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. 
  • Cosponsored Senate resolutions honoring June as LGBTQ Pride Month in 2021 and 2022
  • Opposed the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wadesaying, “I do not support a nationwide abortion ban,” and calling it, “a giant step backward for our country.” He also said he supports some “restrictions on abortion late in pregnancy,” as established under Roe v. Wade, but also that the government should respect healthcare a pregnant individual might need when “facing serious circumstances.”

Blake Masters (R), Chief Operating Officer Thiel Capital (above, right)

  • Pledged to push a federal “Don’t Say Gay” law based on Florida’s bigoted law, saying “your tax dollars should not fund radical gender ideology and weird sex instruction for children.”
  • Supports businesses denying service to LGBTQ customers.
  • Opposes same-sex marriage equality because marriage’s “point is procreation and creating children.” At least 25% of LGBTQ people in Arizona are raising children.
  • Quote-tweeted, “Finally a compelling explanation for why our economy is doing so well” in response to The Associated Press tweeting, “Leadership at the Federal Reserve has become its most diverse ever. There are more female, Black and gay officials contributing to the central bank’s interest-rate decisions than at any time in its 109-year history,” along with a link to their story on the topic. When it proved controversial, he tweeted out a video message in which he said, “I don’t care if every single employee at the Fed is a Black lesbian, as long as they’re hired for their competence and not because of what they look like or who they sleep with. News for Joe Biden: We are done with this affirmative action regime. I can’t think of a single policy since the end of Jim Crow that’s been worse or more divisive for race relations.”
  • Wants to ban “critical race theory” and defund “gender ideology,” concepts that are not taught in schools. His campaign distributed yard signs that read, “Blake Masters won’t ask your pronouns in the U.S. Senate.” 
  • Supports Senator Lindsey Graham’s bill banning abortion nationwide and has called for a “federal personhood law” for fetuses. While Masters’ campaign website was scrubbed of that language, he has said he is not signaling an abandonment of his previous positions.


Katie Hobbs (D), Arizona Secretary of State (above, left)

  • While a member of the Arizona Senate, Hobbs voted against a bill that would have legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people to individuals, businesses, and other entities based on religious objection.
  • Sponsored a bill in 2017 to add protections for LGBTQ people, as well as veterans, to Arizona’s pre-existing nondiscrimination laws.
  • Sponsored a bill to update all references in state law from “husband and wife” to “married couple” or “spouse.”
  • In 2019, Hobbs hung an LGBTQ Pride flag and a Transgender Pride flag on the Arizona Capitol building, a first. 
  • From her campaign site: “Katie will work to secure ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which the state legislature continues to stall session after session. A Hobbs Administration will also work to enact anti-discrimination policies that will ensure equality by explicitly banning LGBTQ+ discrimination in a variety of areas including housing, education, adoption, foster care, insurance, public accommodations, and procuring credit. Katie will also work to pass a ban on profiling by law enforcement based upon race, gender identity, or sexual orientation and establish public metrics to track profiling.”
  • Opposes Arizona’s 15-week abortion ban and has said, “I’ll do whatever it takes to continue to expand access, including vetoing further restrictions.”

Kari Lake (R), former TV news anchor (above, right)

  • Endorsed by former President Donald Trump—whose administration deployed more than 200 policies and statements against LGBTQ Americans.
  • Says she has gay friends who are “appalled with the ‘BTQ+’ [bisexual, transgender, and queer] everything they keep adding to it.” Has stated that those same gay friends would oppose a nondiscrimination bill protecting them statewide, and says, “Sane, hardworking gay men and women are fed up with being held hostage by the alphabet mafia.”
  • In a March interview on KNST radio, criticized schools that teach students about gender identity, stating that they are promoting “confusion.” “This is why it is so important, and maybe the most important, for people to run for school board, some people with sanity who aren’t going to push this on our children,” said Lake. “Can you imagine back while we were going to school if a teacher would have been talking about all of this crazy stuff? Gender identity? It’s just so lunatic.”
  • Tweeted in May that, “A child’s gender is determined by God at conception, NOT by some Woke Teacher in the 3rd grade. This insanity must end,” falsely implying that schools are somehow responsible for creating transgender youth. 
  • Falsely accused President Joe Biden of promoting “grooming” during an interview with former Trump cabinet member Steve Bannon, claiming Biden is “withholding National School Lunch Program Funds from schools that don’t adopt his perverted sexual agenda.”
  • Scapegoated the LGBTQ community, writing, “They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens. They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow. They seek to disarm Americans and militarize our Enemies. Let’s bring back the basics: God, Guns & Glory.” 
  • LGBTQ Arizonans who know Lake complained that her anti-LGBTQ turn is hurtful and “for political gain.” “[Kari Lake is] friends with drag queens,” Richard Stevens, who performs under the stage name Barbra Seville, told The Arizona Republic. “She’s had her kid in front of a drag queen. I’ve done drag in her home for her friends and family. She’s not threatened by them. She would come to shows constantly. To make me be the bogeyman for political gain, it was just too much.” Stevens posted older photos with Lake on his drag Instagram, including a photo of Lake in drag herself, dressed as Elvis for Halloween.  
  • Endorsed anti-Semite, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBTQ candidate Jarrin Jackson, who is running for a seat in the Oklahoma state Senate, before rescinding her endorsement following an intense public backlash. Jackson has said “the Jews” are evidence that “evil exists,” and characterized being LGBTQ as a “gateway to pedophilia.”
  • Posted a message of support in response to Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPYs speech, saying, “I am absolutely rooting for anyone who makes the difficult decision to transition. It is a decision that is never made lightly.” In comments following the post, Lake argued in response to anti-trans comments from some of her followers, saying, “It doesn’t matter if we agree or not…that’s not the point. The point is this is her life. And there are a lot of young people coming up today facing the same difficult dilemma needing support so we don’t have so many suicides in this group of individuals. No one is asking you to transition, they are just asking for a little bit [of] understanding or support.”
  • Signaled support for Arizona’s 15-week abortion ban, saying she would “follow the law” if elected as governor.  

Secretary of State

Mark Finchem (R), member of the Arizona House of Representatives (above, left)

  • Endorsed by former President Donald Trump—whose administration deployed more than 200 policies and statements against LGBTQ Americans.
  • Introduced House Bill 2002 with the aim of banning teachers from discussing political or controversial issues in schools, and would not clarify whether that could lead to teachers being fired for discussing LGBTQ topics. 
  • Attended the January 6 insurrection, and was much closer to the Capitol Building than he had claimed. Finchem said he had not gotten within 500 yards of the Capitol, but footage from the event showed that to be false. Finchem also posted pictures of insurrectionists, praising them, and following up with a tweet pushing the false conspiracy theory that “antifa” was behind the attack on the Capitol and the crowd simply “fell for it.” In 2014, he self-identified as a member of the Oath Keepers, an American far-right, anti-government militia whose members have targeted and defamed drag story hours and promoted violence. CNN uncovered Finchem’s social media posts promoting a “Treason Watch List,” comparing former President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, and showing a stockpile of ammunition alongside the message, “You need to be prepared.”
  • Called himself the hero of the January 6 story in released texts with Ali Alexander, an organizer of the “Stop the Steal” rally.
  • Reported being questioned by both the Justice Department and the House select committee investigating January 6.
  • Endorsed anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ Oklahoma state Senate candidate Jarrin Jackson, and, unlike Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, refused to pull his endorsement in spite of public backlash.
  • Said he was opposed to adding LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections to state law, opposed to allowing transgender girls and women play sports on teams matching their gender, and supported allowing parents to subject their minor children to conversion therapy as well as handing individuals and businesses a license to discriminate based on religious beliefs.  
  • Voted in favor of the state’s 15-week abortion ban, as well as a bill requiring healthcare professionals to inquire about and report why a patient was seeking an abortion, one to require physicians to attempt to revive a viable fetus after an abortion procedure, and co-sponsored another to limit health insurance coverage for abortion.

Adrian Fontes (D), lawyer and former Assistant Attorney General (above, right)

  • Identified himself as an ally to the LGBTQ community who learned a lot from LGBTQ organizers in an interview with OutVoices Phoenix. 
  • Celebrated HRC’s finding showing Arizona cities ranking highly for LGBTQ inclusion in laws and policies, adding, “All Arizonans deserve to be protected under the law.”
  • Following the leak of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion on Roe v. Wade, which made clear other LGBTQ rights rulings could also be overturned, tweeted: “It’s not just abortion. It’s gay marriage. It’s segregation. It’s interracial marriage. The assault on American values from the radical extreme right wing is in full force. We must stop it.”
  • Opposed Roe v. Wade being overturned and released a statement in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision promising to fight for abortion rights if elected.

Attorney General

Abraham Hamadeh (R), former Maricopa County prosecutor (above, right)

  • Endorsed by former President Donald Trump—whose administration deployed more than 200 policies and statements against LGBTQ Americans.
  • Pushed the conspiracy theory that Trump won the 2020 presidential election, tweeting a promise to “never forget–or forgive.”
  • Accepted a donation from fake elector Dr. Michael Ward, who signed a bogus document in claiming Trump won Arizona’s Electoral College votes in the 2020 election, before appointing him to a position within his campaign.
  • Bragged about illegally casting his mother’s ballot as a teenager on a message board, where he also posted anti-Semitic, anti-Arab, and sexist remarks.
  • Tweeted, “You radicals don’t even know what gender you are” in response to a Twitter user who called him “a radical, right wing extremist.”
  • Insulted people who understand gender isn’t binarytweeting, “Never forget their stupidity and lust for power.
  • Promised to uphold Arizona’s 15-week abortion ban if elected, and believes the current attorney general is correct in fighting to enact an earlier ban that could lead to the imprisonment of doctors who perform abortions.

Kris Mayes (D), Professor of Energy Law at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; Former Arizona Corporation Commissioner (above, left)

  • If elected, would be the first out LGBTQ attorney general of Arizona. She would also be the first mother to hold the position.
  • Pledged to “protect the rights of LGBTQ people in Arizona, including students, including trans students,” during an interview with The Copper Courier. “I think all Arizonans deserve equal protection under the law,” she added. She also characterized the Arizona office of civil rights as “virtually defunct,” and as “not being utilized by the current attorney general.”
  • Responded to a slate of anti-LGBTQ bills passing in the Senate and being signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey as an example of “a legislature that has run amok.” She added, “And it’s doing things in the form of bills like that that are just mean-spirited and discriminatory, and are not where they oughta be putting their focus.”
  • Said she doesn’t believe the 15-week abortion ban to be constitutional, nor does she believe an older law banning most abortions in the state, which the current attorney general has been leading a lawsuit to enforce, to be constitutional. It could result in doctors being sentenced to prison for assisting in any abortion that isn’t required to save the life of the pregnant person. “We will never prosecute a doctor, a nurse, a midwife, a doula or a pharmacist when I’m attorney general, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that the 15 county attorneys in Arizona also follow the Arizona constitution,” she told a local news radio station.

GLAAD has also released a  Tip Sheet for Journalists Covering the 2022 Midterm Election and tracks public figures’ policy and rhetoric about LGBTQ people in the GLAAD Accountability Project, including high profile people from Arizona.

Visit GLAAD.org/vote to check your registraion status and make a plan to #VoteWithPride! 

About Equality Arizona: Equality Arizona is a non-profit organization focused on improving everyday life for LGBTQ+ Arizonans through better politics and policy. Equality Arizona is composed of a 501(c)(3), the Equality Arizona Foundation; a 501(c)(4), Equality Arizona; and the Equality Arizona Political Action Committee.

About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.