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Ethics complaints filed over GOP anti-LGBTQ comments

Republican state Reps. John Fillmore and Kevin Payne are both facing ethics complaints for anti-LGBTQ and discriminatory comments made Wednesday during a Government and Elections Committee meeting.

The remarks came while the committee reviewed House Bill 2725, a measure Fillmore introduced that LGBTQ advocates call a cruel measure that would “erase” non-binary Arizonans. The legislation would bar all governments in Arizona from identifying an individual’s sex as anything other than male or female.

Riley Behrens, a community advocate who attended the committee’s debate of the bill, said in separate ethics complaints that Fillmore and Payne each “engaged in conduct that compromises the character of himself, the integrity of the Arizona State House of Representatives, and shows a lack of respect for members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Fillmore and Payne did not respond to requests for comment.

During the committee hearing, Fillmore said “the gender dysfunction thing” allows “men to enter into the restrooms of the little girls and creates situations that I don’t think are beneficial to society and the nuclear family as a whole.”

“I don’t believe we, as a society, should have all of the different binaries identified,” Fillmore said. “I mean, what’s going to happen when, someday, someone wakes up and they want to go to the far extreme and identify as a chicken, or something, for crying out loud? Where do we draw the line?”

Several Democratic lawmakers on the committee were visibly taken aback by Fillmore’s remarks.

“This is just incredibly upsetting to hear the bill sponsor using words to describe people… It’s disturbing and upsetting,” said Kelli Butler, D-Phoenix. “This is about being a human being that respects other human beings, and everybody isn’t just like me, and that’s great.”

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Behrens said that while the committee was taking testimony from Megan Mogan, a Tucson parent of a non-binary child, Payne made disparaging and dehumanizing comments.

“Payne continuously disrupted public testimony and in a comment to himself, said ‘So it doesn’t know who it is?’ in reference to the child of one of the community members who testified virtually,” Behrens wrote in the ethics complaint. “Referencing any person as ‘it’, particularly a child, is discriminatory and cannot be tolerated.”

Behrens asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Fillmore and Payne for “unethical, unprofessional, and even immoral conduct.”

Behrens told Arizona Mirror in an email that Filmore’s and Payne’s comments should be denounced by the House of Representatives.

“During committee, several anti-LGBT and discriminatory comments were made and that simply cannot be allowed,” he said. “It is unacceptable and affects the integrity of the House of Representatives. Today’s complaints should be a reminder that this behavior will not be tolerated by the community and that we will stand up to it every time.”

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.


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Before voting on House Bill 2725, lawmakers heard brief but emotional testimony from three mothers of non-binary children. Republican state Reps. John Fillmore and Kevin made several anti-LGBT and discriminatory comments and now face ethics complaints.

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