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Mesa approves new non-discrimination ordinance

Mesa City Council voted to approve new protections to the LGBTQ+ community, among other groups, in a new non-discrimination ordinance.

PHOENIX — Mesa City Council voted Monday night to approve an ordinance that gives new protections to the LGBTQ+ community, among other groups, in a new non-discrimination ordinance.

Council passed the ordinance in a 5-2 vote.

The ordinance protects residents from “discrimination in employment, housing and places of public accommodation based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, veteran’s status, marital status, genetic information or familial status.”

“Mesa’s non-discrimination ordinance demonstrates our commitment to respecting and supporting equality and diversity in our city,” Mesa Mayor John Giles said.

Elena Joy Thurston with the Pride and Joy Foundation is thrilled about the latest development.

“They stepped up as leaders and they got it done and I'm so impressed, I think it's really easy for Mesa to have a really conservative city that is exclusionary,” Thurston said.

Thurston and Giles shared similar sentiments that this new ordinance will squash an old mentality.

"We're anxious for everyone to feel comfortable and protected and this ordinance is going to help do that. It's moderate. It won't go too far but at the same time it's very significant in extending non-discrimination protection to everyone in our community," Giles said.

Giles worked with the council and multiple organizations that reviewed and endorsed the ordinance including, the Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Visit Mesa, Mesa Economic Development Advisory Board and Mesa Human Relations Advisory Board. 

As a result the desired outcome was reached without hindering existing businesses. 

Giles said the measure does not require any modifications to personally owned shops or businesses. It simply calls for open-mindedness.

"All they need to do is just not discriminate and so that's something we're excited to help people understand. That's not going to be disruptive or costly," he added.

Giles said based on the other six cities in Arizona with similar ordinances, it is a beneficial way to boost business.

"It's the right thing to do, it's also a smart thing to do there's economic benefits attached with being a community that's proud of being non-discriminatory, so it's a win-win for our city," he said.

The overall hope is to continue growing the city of Mesa and expand outreach through the "One Mesa Pledge."

Thurston said this is a major win for a big city like Mesa and she is excited to see the influence it reaches in other large municipalities.

“This isn't just paving the path for Arizona cities, it's paving the path for cities all over the country, which is just a huge step in the right direction,” Thurston added.

The ordinance takes effect on June 29, 2021.

Repeat offenders could face fines between $300 to $2,500. There would be no fine for a first violation.

Mesa, Arizona’s third most populous city, is the seventh city in the state of Arizona to adopt a non-discrimination ordinance.

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