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“(The Ferndale) City Council on Monday moved to put a proposed gay rights ordinance before voters in November rather than enact the ordinance by council vote. Council members learned from (the) City Attorney…that the council was prohibited by the city charter from enacting an ordinance if voters had already rejected such an ordinance. …In the last gay rights election in Ferndale, Gary Glenn of…the American Family Association (of Michigan) said that organization spent about $5,000 to help opponents of the measure defeat it at the polls. Glenn has vowed to help opponents again.”
Royal Oak, Michigan
June 27, 2006
Voters to decide on gay rights ordinance
by Michael P. McConnell, Daily Tribune Staff Writer
FERNDALE, Mich. — In a surprise move, the City Council on Monday moved to put a proposed gay rights ordinance before voters in November rather than enact the ordinance by council vote.
Council members learned from City Attorney P. Daniel Christ hours before Monday’s meeting that the council was prohibited by the city charter from enacting an ordinance if voters had already rejected such an ordinance.
That was the case in February 2000 when 51 percent of voters defeated the same gay rights ordinance the City Council had enacted the year before. Forty-nine percent of voters favored the ordinance.
The proposed ordinance prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and access to public services based on a person’s sexual orientation. Violation would be a civil infraction and carry a fine of up to $500.
Councilman Craig Covey, who wanted the gay rights ordinance brought back and enacted by the council, said the council would have voted unanimously to enact the measure if council members had the opportunity.
But Covey said he is glad it will be up to a vote of the people.
“The timing is right,” he said. “A large number of Ferndale voters will be able to take part and I’m confident it will pass.”
Ferndale voters first rejected a similar measure in 1991. The vote on the gay rights ordinance in November will be the third time the city has tried to pass such a measure.
The ballot language for the ordinance in November is identical to the gay rights ordinance voters defeated by about 100 votes in 2000, Christ said.
“The only way to bring this back is by a popular vote,” said Mayor Robert Porter after hearing Christ’s legal opinion on the issue.
In the last gay rights election in Ferndale, Gary Glenn of the conservative Christian group called the American Family Association said that organization spent about $5,000 to help opponents of the measure defeat it at the polls. Glenn has vowed to help opponents again overturn it, he said recently.
The City Council in 1999 enacted a gay rights ordinance, but opponents then gathered enough signatures to force the issue to a citywide vote.
Other Michigan cities that have such ordinances on the books include Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo and Huntington Woods.
Since Huntington Woods approved a gay rights ordinance several years ago there have been formal complaints made alleging discrimination there based on sexual orientation, according to City Manager Alex Allie.