Villages of Lake Orion and Holly Considering Non-Discrimination Ordinances

Renaissance_Unity_Brown_TopVillages of Lake Orion and Holly Considering lisa schmidt lawNon-Discrimination Ordinances

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 17, 2016)

Holly, MI – At least two Oakland County municipalities are considering whether to adopt LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, also known as human rights ordinances.  The ordinances would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of things that cannot be used to deny people access to business services, housing or employment.  The Village of Holly and the Village of Lake Orion would join at least 40 other communities with similar laws across Michigan.

The ordinances come about because in Michigan it is still legal to fire someone because they are gay or transgender.  It is legal to turn away someone from housing or hotel ctechadaccommodations because they are gay or transgender.  And it is legal to refuse service at restaurants or stores to someone because they are LGBT.

Michigan has laws in place to specifically prevent discrimination against marginalized groups.  Because of a history of discrimination against various types of people, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 defined that people had civil rights and served “to prohibit discriminatory practices, policies and customs in the exercise of those rights based up religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status.

Efforts to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the state law have not been successful, so communities have been adding their own.

“In Michigan we know that discrimination happens. We have Elliott-Larsen because the state recognized that discrimination exists and needed to be addressed,” said Lake Orion resident Lisa Goyettee who is the contact person for a group of citizens pushing for a local MASTER_garden16_darren_bolsbyordinance.

“For 40 years there has been protection for everyone but this group.  We know that when protections are in place it reduces health issues, improves the economy, reduces joblessness and improves quality of life for people in this group… In Michigan there are hundreds of cases that are documented and many others that have gone unreported.  We know there is a need.”

Goyettee and others first approached Orion Township about adopting an ordinance.  Township officials instead decided to issue a resolution against discrimination.  The resolution has no legal weight and no enforcement mechanism.  An ordinance would give the municipality the option to issue a citation and impose a penalty if they chose, and the victim in a discrimination case could have more legal backing should they decide to sue in civil Chazzano03court.

After the decision by Orion Township, the group set their sights on the Village of Lake Orion.  “There are two million people in Michigan who are covered by inclusive human rights ordinances,” she said.  “We live here in Orion Township, in Lake Orion and there should be protection here.”

Village Manager Darwin Parks-McClary urged the village council to approve an ordinance rather than a resolution.  In a memo to officials Parks-McClary wrote “It is my opinion that the human rights resolution adopted by Orion Township carries little meaning and completely lacks any enforcement mechanism.

“The resolution sends a clear message to the LGBTQ residents of our community, village employees, and visitors that the village is not committed to protecting LGBTQ citizens from discrimination unless such protections are granted by another level of government.”

The Village Council meets at 730 pm on August 22 at Village Hall, 21 E. Church Street.

ChamberAd_02In Holly the meeting will be Aug. 23. The Village of Holly website states “The Village of Holly Council will hold a public hearing to receive written and verbal comments from citizens regarding proposed ordinance #443, Non-Discrimination in the Village of Holly, on August 23, 2016 at 7:00 pm during the regular Council meeting located in the Village Council Chambers located at 920 E. Baird Street, Karl Richter Center, and Holly, MI.”

The opening of the ordinance expresses its purpose with simplicity, stating “It is the intent of the Village of  Holly  that no person  be denied the equal protection  of the  laws; nor shall any person be denied the enjoyment of his or her civil rights or be discriminated  against because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height,  weight, marital status, physical or mental disability, family status, sexual orientation, or gender  identity.”

garden16_bridget_kevin_deegan_krauseIf successful, Lake Orion and Holly could join Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, and Southfield as cities that have vowed to protect their LGBT residents and guests.  Large cities like Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing also have protections in place, with East Lansing being the first in the nation in 1972.

Voters in the City of Royal Oak adopted a human rights ordinance in 2013, and Mayor Jim Ellison has no regrets.  “As far as I know we’ve not had any reports,” he said. “We didn’t think we’d have a lot of reports.  Royal Oak is already a welcoming place. But this sends the message that if you are LGBT and you come to Royal Oak, we will protect you.  We are welcoming to everyone”Jacks Ad

 

For more info on Lake Orion and the Aug. 22 meeting go to http://www.lakeorion.org/images/Village/Agenda/Agenda.pdf.

For more info on Holly and the Aug. 23 meeting go to

http://www.hollyvillage.org/event/public-hearing-proposed-ordinance-443-non-discrimination/.

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