Non-Discrimination Ordinance in Mesa Under Attack by Anti-LGBTQ Group

Committee forms to attempt referendum of recently passed non-discrimination ordinance

(Mesa, ARIZ. March 10th, 2021) – “United for Mesa” a committee supported by the anti-LGTBQ organization Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), have begun the process of collecting signatures in an attempt to overturn the recently passed non-discrimination ordinance in Mesa by referring it to the ballot for a citizen vote. The ordinance passed overwhelmingly with a 5-2 vote on March 1st, 2021 with support from Mesa Mayor John Giles.  The ordinance, which protects all people, including LGBTQ people, from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations in Mesa is the result of years of dialogue with diverse stakeholders including businesses, faith leaders, community organizations and families.  

“Efforts to refer the LGBTQ inclusive non-discrimination ordinance to the ballot would have an immediate negative impact on Mesa’s reputation and our local economy,” said Angela Hughey, President of ONE Community. “The ordinance is about equal treatment, not special treatment. Attempts to overturn the ordinance sends a message that Mesa is only open to some, not all. This effort is reminiscent of previous prejudiced actions that put Arizona’s reputation in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons such as the rejection of MLK Day, SB1070 and SB1062.  From our years of work in Mesa, we have faith that Mesa residents will decline to sign the petition.”

“As Mesa recovers from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID19 pandemic, we need to be welcoming and inclusive of all people. This effort sadly sends the opposite message, making it harder for us to attract and retain the workers, businesses and events we need to rebuild. I urge people to decline to sign the petition,” said Marc Garcia, President & CEO of Visit Mesa.

“As a person who grew up in Mesa, this ordinance is a major victory for fairness, equality and opportunity for all, including LGBTQ people. These hateful efforts to overturn this critically important ordinance contribute to a narrative that Mesa residents are not inclusive or supportive of equal rights. That may be true of the Mesa I grew up in, but the Mesa of today strives to be better. Equal rights are universal values, central to the beliefs of Arizonans, faith communities, and good business practices. I join in asking Mesa residents to decline to sign the petition,” said Michael Soto, Executive Director of Equality Arizona.

“After years of discussion and research, the City of Mesa passed this ordinance because we believe the majority of Mesa residents want all to be treated with dignity and respect, without exception, and this ordinance is a historic step forward for Mesa and Arizona,” stressed Mesa Mayor John Giles. “This ordinance will give all residents and visitors a sense of belonging and will help us to attract opportunities to create a sustainable future and economy,” Mayor Giles concluded.

It was clear from personal testimony during the March 1st, 2021 City Council meeting that passing the non-discrimination ordinance was the right choice for the City of Mesa. While changing the law will not end all unfair treatment overnight and will not change the hearts of people who hold personal bias against LGBTQ people, it is essential to ensuring that all people, including LGBTQ people, are treated fairly, treated equally, and have equal opportunity.