Other local cities, including neighboring Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix and Scottsdale, have passed similar ordinances offering protection from unlawful discrimination to members of the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups.
The Chandler City Council was not in total agreement in a discussion around the ordinance in late April with several members of council wanting to instead pass a proclamation or resolution that would provide more of a blanket statement in favor of non-discriminatory practices versus an ordinance that would provide residents protection from discrimination and create some sort of legal repercussions to defying the ordinance. A majority of council members in April were more in favor of a resolution.
On May 20, local legislators Rep. Mitzi Epstein, Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, Rep. Jennifer Jermaine and Rep. Sean Bowie sent a letter to the Chandler City Council calling on them to pass an ordinance.
"As legislators representing the city of Chandler, we strongly support policies that ensure dignity and respect for all our shared constituents," the letter read. "Among these are protections for our active and growing LGBTQ community. Together we have introduced and co-sponsored legislation to ensure these protections are available to all Arizona residents. Everyone deserves to live in a city where they feel appreciated and welcomed, regardless of who they love. That is why we are urging the city of Chandler to consider and adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance that provides protections for sexual orientation and gender identity for workers and residents for employment, housing and public accommodation."
The legislators said in the letter that Chandler is the largest Arizona city without such an ordinance.
"We believe that implementing these protections in Chandler will not only protect our LGBTQ community but will also send a strong message to our business community that Chandler is a place that values equality, diversity, and equal rights for all and is a great place for its employees to live and work," the letter read. "Many of Chandler's largest employers, including Intel and PayPal, who collectively employ thousands of Chandler residents and have invested billions of dollars in the city, agree with the four of us that these protections are vitally important and are critical to long-term economic development."
On May 19, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors also sent a letter to the Chandler City Council calling on them to take action.
"For the Chamber, which represents the interests of more than 170,000 people employed by businesses operating in Chandler, instituting an anti-discrimination statute is essential to the continued vitality and competitiveness of our city within the Phoenix Metropolitan Area," the letter read. "Entrepreneurs and businesses consider many factors in deciding where to invest, and the city of Chandler should continue to meet those needs through its leadership and policy."
At a council meeting in late April, the Chandler City Council directed city staff to draft language for a resolution to show the city's stance on discrimination against vulnerable groups. The council has yet to discuss the matter further or take action.
Council Member Christine Ellis told Community Impact Newspaper she wants to make sure to get public input before any potential action is taken, but said that she supports a resolution that would "embrace diversity."
"I believe that an embracing diversity resolution wil lbe whats best for us in Chandler," Ellis said. "At this moment, I don't believe our council should make this a partisan issue. It's not an agenda issue, not a big corporate America issue—this is a Chandler people issue."
Ellis said she wanted to make sure the process remains transparent.
'We will work on this," Ellis said. "We will work together on it and we will come up with a solution that's best for Chandler."