Chandler Council OKs non-discrimination ordinance - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler Council OKs non-discrimination ordinance

November 20th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler Council OKs non-discrimination ordinance
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By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

The advocates for a non-discrimination ordinance gathered outside Chandler City Council Chambers to celebrate even before the Nov. 10 meeting was officially over.

Chandler is no longer the largest city in Arizona without an NDO.

“I think tonight was a very, very important step forward, and culminates a two-year process,” said Tyler Conaway, co-founder of Chandler Pride and who chairs the Chandler Chamber of Commerce’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.

“It’s inspiring to be part of a bigger process that’s intended to make Chandler more inclusive, and make everyone feel like they have a place to belong. So, I’m very excited.”

Support from businesses may have been the key to adoption.

The Chandler Chamber has been lobbying hard for the adoption. During the Nov. 10 meeting, Thomas Barr of Local First Arizona called on the Council to pass the the non-discrimination measure.

He’s the vice president for business development for the group that supports small businesses in Arizona.

“Having worked closely alongside organizations advancing equality for all Arizonans, we’ve seen small businesses continue to advocate themselves for inclusive policies for the LGBTQ community,” Barr said. “That makes Arizona a great place we’re all proud to call home.”

The ordinance prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, disability, marital status or familial status.

It covers all contractors, vendors and consultants who do work on behalf of the city. It also provides for equity in employment and public accommodation within the city.

Any company found in violation of the NDO would not be given any city contracts.

During study sessions, council members learned that very few complaints actually go to that conclusion. Most cases are worked out through mediation.

The City Attorney told the Council that there has only been one case in Arizona that went to the state Supreme Court. In that case a Phoenix printer refused to create wedding invitations for a gay couple. The court ultimately ruled there must be exemption to NDOs for religious viewpoints.

Conaway and Eduarda Schroder, the other co-founder of the LGBTQ-rights group Chandler Pride, said there may need to be adjustments made to the NDO in the future.

“As far as revisiting, if you look at the other cities that passed fast, quicker versions, Scottsdale, and in particular Mesa, they’ve made slight adjustments as they’ve gone back in and said, ‘does this make sense? Do we need this anymore?,’” Conaway said.

Schroder said during public comments that she would like to see tougher penalties for violators.

“There should be consequences, censure or a monetary fine,” she wrote in a text. “Or both. Chandler Pride hasn’t zeroed in on something yet.”

Harris pushed for the passage of the NDO, crediting Matt Orlando and Christine Ellis for helping him draft the final version in a subcommittee.

“I’m proud today and I’m excited today,” Harris said. “I could not be more proud of the work that we did – for almost two years, working on this tirelessly.”

Ellis said she was happy Council took its time to get this right.

The mayor issued a proclamation in the spring of 2021 calling for an inclusive community. Council then decided to pursue a DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) survey, hiring an outside contractor to run it.

In it they found that 13% of city employees strongly disagree that the city is an inclusive place to work.

If there was any reluctance by this Council to pass a NDO, there was pressure to act now.

Incoming council members Angel Encinas and Jane Poston both campaigned on passing a non-discrimination ordinance and easily won election. With Harris and Orlando already on the record voting for the measure, that would have given them a majority.

“It makes a statement, and it’s the statement that I believe always described Chandler, is that we are not a city that is known for discrimination,” said Mayor Kevin Hartke.

He said during last year’s campaign he would oppose the NDO because he thought it put too big a burden on businesses.

Hartke said this one is not onerous. “I’m very proud to live in this city.”