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Action Alert: Republican Party co-chair Voted for Radical "Gay Rights" Ordinance

October 20, 2005

Please contact Margie Van Houten today!

Republican Party co-chair voted FOR radical “gay rights” ordinance

Margie Van Houten, state co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party and a member of the Dearborn Heights City Council, last week joined the rest of the council in unanimously voting to approve the first “gay rights” ordinance adopted anywhere in Michigan in over four years.

The radical “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” language included in the ordinance is found in only two other cities in the state — Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti — establishing special protected class status on the basis of not only homosexual behavior, but cross-dressing.

Van Houten initially expressed opposition to this language, but when it was added over her objections, she “caved” — as reported in the commentary below by homosexual activist Sean Kosofsky –and voted for the ordinance anyway.

Thankfully, it is not too late to stop this radical ordinance. As in other cities, citizens of Dearborn Heights can launch a petition drive to force a public ballot vote on the issue before it becomes law. However, the signature requirement is high, and the time limit for gathering them is very short. It’ll be tough to do without

Please join AFA-Michigan in expressing your disappointment with Margie Van Houten’s vote in support of this “gay rights” ordinance, and urge her — if she’s serious about opposing its radical “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” language — to do everything in her power not to let it take effect without a vote of the people.


Margie Van Houten
Phone: 313-378-0553

As always, we deeply appreciate your support.

Gary Glenn, President
American Family Association of Michigan

(homosexual newsmagazine)
Detroit, Michigan
October 20, 2005

Why Dearborn Heights is a big deal
by Sean Kosofsky

It is one of the most difficult moments for activists. You get a call saying that in thirty-six hours a major policy decision is being made that will affect your cause but a major problem is brewing. You might be asked to compromise something that means a lot to you, in order to have a victory. This is what happened in Dearborn Heights.

After a series of hate crimes in Wayne County sparked community outrage, a prominent Republican activist and Dearborn Heights city councilwoman decided to draft a human rights ordinance for her city. Margaret Van Houten is a member of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, but is no supporter of GLBT rights. Her colleagues on city council told her the ordinance she drafted was lacking protections based on “sexual orientation,” so they added it against her objections.

A constituent called me on Monday, October 10 saying the ordinance was coming to a vote the next night. There was some speculation that the gay inclusive language might have harmed the chances for the ordinance to become law. The goal was not only to keep the existing language intact, but to convince a majority of the Council to support adding even more new language to protect the transgender community. We had to quickly become versed in the local politics and get key legal and constituent voices to the table.

It was amazing. The entire city council, except Van Houten, was very responsive and very open-minded about the new language. Some feared that last minute changes could doom the ordinance and that adding “new groups” may be too ambitious. But, nearly everyone agreed that we needed to do it right the first time, and that it was unlikely the city would add transgender protections after the dust settled. It had to be now.

The very woman who drafted the ordinance, who objected to the GLBT protections, was now in a predicament. She either had to vote against her own ordinance, or vote for GLBT rights. Van Houten caved and decided that it was more important to have this ordinance than to stall or hold up the process because of her personal views.

In the end, the Dearborn Heights City Council sent a powerful and lasting message to its constituents. It voted unanimously to approve the ordinance with the GLBT inclusive language and not one person from the audience stood to object (knock on wood). This was a breath of fresh air after witnessing countless anti-GLBT tirades at public meetings in towns like Ferndale, Royal Oak, Ypsilanti and others. I thanked the Council and even Van Houten for bringing the ordinance to the city, and for ultimately giving it her endorsement.

It felt really good to win, but activists and conservative Republicans should take notice. Too often, sound policies are held up because they might benefit the GLBT community. If Dearborn Heights can end the gridlock, why not other welcoming cities? I think Dearborn Heights signals a shift. The bar has been raised. Years of relationship building and public education helped this happen. Most importantly, Dearborn Heights has a city council of open minded, educated, and committed public servants who were determined to make their community a better and more inclusive place than how they found it.

Please thank Mayor Dan Paletko, who showed strong leadership for our rights. Call 313-791-3490 or email You can find contact info for the rest of the Council at

Sean Kosofsky is the Director of Policy for Triangle Foundation.


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