Mesa group drops effort to repeal nondiscrimination ordinance

A Mesa group that was planning a push to repeal the city's recently approved nondiscrimination ordinance extending protections to the LGBTQ community, will not go ahead with the effort, they announced.

United for Mesa had collected 11,505 signatures, more than the required amount to place the issue on the ballot. Those signatures passed the necessary review process, and a five-day window meant that anyone was able to object to the measure from making the ballot.

A legal challenge was expected to be filed on May 7, and United for Mesa then said in a statement that it would drop its efforts to repeal the nondiscrimination ordinance.

"Unfortunately, this citizen effort is up against the deep pockets of a nationally funded opposition and a series of legal challenges and technical issues that we believe will keep us off the ballot, despite our best efforts. We don't have either the signature margin or the equivalent funding needed to come out on top," the group's statement said.

It comes as the Mesa City Council approved the ordinance, which extended protections to the LGBTQ community and others in public accommodation, employment, and housing, on March 1 despite strong opposition.

Mesa Mayor John Giles | Photo: mesaaz.gov

Mayor John Giles strongly supported the ordinance. Mesa was the seventh Arizona city to approve a nondiscrimination ordinance that extends protections to LGBTQ individuals with Scottsdale passing a similar ordinance soon after.

A few days after the council vote, a political committee formed by residents called United for Mesa launched a referendum campaign to try to reverse the decision via citywide ballot.

The group, led by political consultant George Khalaf, won the right to challenge the ordinance by filing enough voter signatures to place the matter on the ballot. It will possibly be challenged in court as supporters of the ordinance try to knock the referendum off the ballot. There is a five-day window to do this.

City and Maricopa County officials reviewed the submitted signatures for the referendum effort and found there were 11,505 signatures, more than the 9,100 required to go to the voters.

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

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