Chandler delays vote on LGBTQ+ protections despite demand from community for action

Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke and other leaders have delayed a vote on an ordinance that would extend protections to LGBTQ+ people in the city, 

Chandler has not yet joined other cities such as Mesa, Scottsdale, and Glendale who have passed LGBTQ+ protection laws this year.

Mayor Hartke

According to The Arizona Republic, Hartke wanted to “study the issue more” before coming to a vote. A less comprehensive “unity resolution” that would not have a system of filing complaints or delivering consequences but would at least affirm the support of LGTBQ+ in public places, housing, employment, and city services was also not approved.

However, business leaders and LGBTQ+ individuals want a more comprehensive ordinance for various reasons. LGBTQ+ individuals are hoping for a cultural shift where LGBTQ+ issues are more acceptable to be discussed openly. Business leaders hope that protections for LGBTQ+ people can attract businesses to Chandler and benefit the city’s economy.

With Arizona having no statewide law to protect against discrimination on basis of sexual orientation or gender identity when it comes to employment, housing, and public places, a nondiscrimination ordinance in Chandler would presumably have the effect of bringing more workers and businesses to the city while also enabling LGBTQ+ residents to feel safer and more supported in their identity.

The Chandler Chamber wrote a letter to Hartke and the Chandler City Council requesting an ordinance of some form be passed. However, Hartke has said that there is “no appetite” within the council for passing an ordinance, but they might consider a unity resolution. Reasons why include some councilmembers feeling that a fine is too severe a punishment, while others think that it’s not the local government’s job, as well as how it would affect religious freedoms.

The city is aiming to hire a consultant to study equity, diversity, and inclusivity in the city as well as in employment programs. Hartke hopes that a resolution is reached by the end of 2021, one way or the other.

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