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About

Equality Arizona is a nonprofit organization that works to ensure that LGBTQ+ Arizonans are treated equally under the law, our full human and civil rights are upheld by every level of government, and we have the same rights and obligations as every other citizen of our state and nation.

 

Equality Arizona is a multi-entity organization made up of a 501(c)(3), the Equality Arizona Foundation; a 501(c)(4), Equality Arizona; and the Equality Arizona Political Action Committee. We operate under the collective name, Equality Arizona, as the advocacy and political representatives of LGBTQ+ Arizona.

Our Mission

Equality Arizona’s mission is to build broad and inclusive communities that advocate for the civil rights, safety, and social equality of LGBTQ Arizonans through civic engagement, community building, and education.

Our Vision

We envision an Arizona and United States where everyone, including LGBTQ and other marginalized people, lives knowing they are equally protected under the law and have equal opportunity to live, thrive, and be treated with the dignity that all human beings deserve.

Our Values

Equality Arizona’s values help to guide our work – both what we do and how we do it. Our goal in stating these values is to cultivate integrity and accountability for our work and how we do that work.

 

Justice

Human beings are capable of and responsible for creating a fair society for all people.

 

Authenticity

Every person is free to live and fully be themselves. In return, they respect how others live, even if they do not like or agree with their choices.

 

Generosity of Spirit

Assume good intent and treat others and ourselves with respect and dignity. If we are to create real and enduring community we must cultivate a culture of radical hospitality, not a culture of judgement, of in groups and out groups, of right vs. wrong.

Service to Others

Our community is bound together by a commitment to one another through service. We lift each other up and work to help those in need.

 

Knowledge and Understanding

Change begins with knowledge. We work to educate Arizonans about the LGBTQ+ community and our needs - in order to help them come to know and better understand their LGBTQ+ neighbors.

 

Courage

We live as LGBTQ+ people, even when we are rejected, discriminated against, and even criminalized because of who we are. We believe that all people have a right to live as full human beings. This is courage in action every day.

Core Beliefs about the Purpose of Government

We believe that our local,  state, and federal governments have an obligation to recognize the full civil and human rights of all Arizonans and Americans, including LGBTQ+ people. 

Who we are

Why we work

From 1992 to Today

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Leadership

Anchor Our Team
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Michael S.C. Soto

President | he/him

Michael S.C. Soto serves as the President of Equality Arizona, the state's oldest and leading statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. Michael has decades of history with Equality Arizona in many roles, from intern and volunteer to the chief executive officer. Michael, once again, leads Equality Arizona so that this 30-year-old organization can provide a sustainable and inclusive political home for LGBTQ+ Arizonans and our allies.

Michael is a long-time leader in the LGBTQ+ movement in Arizona and the nation. He has focused his work in red and purple states where he has seen pluralism and liberty for all exist in real life – where neighbors don’t have to live like one another to value one another’s contributions to the community and treat one another with respect and dignity. Michael truly believes the old adage - all politics are local – and what adrienne maree brown teaches - that patterns arise in systems. With this in mind Michael believes to his core that the best solutions for our biggest challenges and problems facing humanity today are found first in local communities and can be scaled with the wisdom of people from every walk of life to meet any challenge.

He is a graduate of ASU with a Bachelor of Arts in Women and Gender Studies and a Master of Science in Justice Studies. Michael is currently a PhD student in Justice Studies at ASU, where his studies focus on pluralism as the antidote to political polarization and extremism. He believes to his core that justice is a lifelong process and hopes to make some meaningful contribution to creating a more just society during his lifetime.

Dr. H.L.T. Quan

Board Member | she/her

H. L. T. Quan is a political theorist and award winning filmmaker. She teaches Justice & Social Inquiry in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. She is the author of Become Ungovernable (Pluto Press, 2024) and Growth Against Democracy (Lexington Books, 2012), and is the editor of Cedric J. Robinson — On Racial Capitalism, Black Internationalism and the Cultures of Resistance (Pluto Press, 2019). In collaboration with C. A. Griffith, Quan’s film credits include Queer, Broke & Amazing! (2024), América’s Home (2014), and Mountains that Take Wing — Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama: A Conversation on Life, Struggles & Liberation (2010). She served as a correspondent on Third World News Review (Santa Barbara, Access TV) and with Elizabeth Robinson, co-founded No Alibis, a public affairs radio show on KCSB FM Santa Barbara that ran for more than three decades.

Trey Jenkins

Board Member | he/him

Trey Jenkins, MSW is a fourth-year Doctoral Candidate at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work. His research focuses on structural factors that impact the mental health and wellbeing of Black transgender and queer adults. He holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Arizona State University and Bachelor of University Studies from the University of New Mexico. In his current role as a Program Coordinator, Sr. with the Watts College Office of Inclusive Design for Equity and Access, Trey works to advance inclusive higher education policies and practices. Previously, Trey was a Research Analyst conducting community based participatory research and evaluation. Trey is a Point Foundation BIPOC Scholar and Arizona Leading for Change Fellow. Over the last 10 years, Trey has been an active member in the Arizona community, holding numerous community service leadership and board positions. In addition to his new role on the Equality Arizona Board, Trey currently serves as Co-chair for the 2025 Let’s Get Better Together Conference; Arizona’s 2SLGBTQIA+ statewide integrated health and advocacy conference. Formerly, Trey served as Board Vice President for Recovery Empowerment Network. He also previously served as a member of the Arizona PAIMI Council and board member for GLSEN Phoenix, now GLSEN Arizona.

History

From Founding to Today

Equality Arizona was founded at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to fight for the rights of people living with AIDS and for the decriminalization of LGBTQ+ lives. Our founders were loving called the “Bill’s”, because all six of these men were named Bill. Our state and the LGBTQ+ Arizonans that came after the Bill’s all owe a debt of gratitude to these brave men who stood up as out gay men and openly advocated for legal protections for LGBTQ+ Arizonans, during a time when being out was not what it is today. 

 

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, we fought for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the archaic laws that criminalized LGBTQ+ relationships, challenged laws that would have defined marriage as "one man and one woman", and campaigned to win marriage equality for the entire community.

 

Throughout the early 2000’s and 2010’s we worked for marriage equality in Arizona and federally, to secure adoption and foster care rights for LGBTQ+ families, and to win non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Arizonans in employment, housing, and public accommodations, winning ordinances in city after city and beginning to lay the groundwork for statewide protections a coalition of other statewide LGBTQ+ organizations. 

 

Most recently, in the late 2010’s and so far in the 2020’s we have continued to work with an incredible coalition of statewide LGBTQ+ organizations to win non-discrimination ordinances in 11 cities in Arizona, covering more than 50% of the population and introduced and had a first ever hearing in the legislature for a statewide non-discrimination bill. We co-founded a national coalition with One Community that works to support LGBTQ+ civil rights work in red states and in co-leading this coalition we played a crucial role supporting Arizona’s senior U.S. Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, in an effort that resulted in codifying the first federal LGBTQ+ civil rights law, the Respect for Marriage Act. Additionally, we have played a significant role in Arizona electoral politics, helping to galvanize voters of every party to vote for pro-equality and pro-pluralism candidates, resulting in more representative government for a diverse Arizona.

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