Shadowy right-wing group one step closer to overturning new LGBTQ civil rights protections in one Arizona city

Shadowy right-wing group one step closer to overturning new LGBTQ civil rights protections in one Arizona city
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A group hiding behind a two-page website that lists no actual persons or physical address has submitted enough signatures to get a repeal of Mesa, Arizona's new LGBTQ civil rights protections law onto the ballot for the November 2022 election.

According to news reports no one seems to know who founded United for Mesa, a Political Action Committee created days after the Mesa City Council passed the non-discrimination ordinance. The website lists an email address, phone number, and P.O. Box.

"Give the People a Voice," the website urges, meaning they believe citizens should vote on civil rights, something studies show overwhelmingly ends with the majority voting to deprive the minority of equal rights. It also claims the "Mesa City Council just passed an ordinance WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF MESA RESIDENTS," which is false. In a representative democracy, citizens elect leaders to make these very decisions for them.

Calling the group "below-the-radar, with no official leaders or posted public meetings," the East Valley Tribune reported last month that "Unofficial leaders like Barbara R. Parker rallied like-minded troops via Facebook and other outlets."

"Thank you to every petition signer and gatherer who helped save Mesa!" Parker posted Thursday night.

"Thank the Lord! I have never seen so many people working so hard to get signatures," wrote Paula Smith in a comment to Parker's post. "It's been amazing! I'm so thankful everyone's hard work paid off!"

"Thank you everyone for going the extra distance, so we may all have a voice in such an important decision," added Charmon Puhlmann, a bus driver for Mesa Public Schools.

Political consultant George Khalaf's firm, The Arizona Republic reports, "is leading the referendum effort against the ordinance," but it does not mention what, if any, relationship he has with United for Mesa.

Last year the Arizona Capitol Times reported Khalaf was a political consultant to Republican state Representative Nancy Barto, in an article discussing an anti-transgender bill.

An email to United for Mesa did not receive a response by press time.

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