Royal Oak, Michigan
October 24, 2006
Both sides of Human Rights ordinance speak out at meeting
by Michael P. McConnell, Daily Tribune Staff Writer
FERNDALE–Residents on both sides of a pro-gay Human Rights Ordinance on the Nov. 7 ballot spoke out Monday night.
The ordinance prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and services based on a person’s sexual orientation and other factors including age, gender and color.
While discrimination based on the other factors is already covered under state and federal laws, sexual orientation is not.
Thomas Gagne — who is leading a campaign against the ordinance –and his wife, Tiffany, objected to the proposed measure during Monday’s City Council meeting.
Noting that Ferndale voters have twice before rejected similar measures, Thomas Gagne chided the council for putting the issue before voters again.
The council, he said, was “perhaps hoping voters had grown weary of resisting … special interests.”
Tiffany Gagne, reading from comments her husband had written, said special interest groups want one group of residents treated differently than others.
“We have a community of neighbors who appreciate and respect each other as individuals,” she said.
However, Derek Smiertka, an organizer for a pro Human Rights Ordinance group called FAVOR, countered Thomas Gagne’s assertion that the City Council, which unanimously endorsed the measure, was pushing its own agenda on voters. The issue was brought to the council by individual people in the city, Smiertka said.
“Equal rights should be fashionable,” Smiertaka said.
County Commissioner Dave Coulter, D-Ferndale, served on a committee of residents eight years ago that drafted and recommended a similar rights ordinance that eventually failed by less than 120 votes in 2000.
“I think it’s fair,” Coulter said of the proposed Human Rights Ordinance. “I think it moves Ferndale in the right direction.”
Thomas Gagne also complained there is nothing in the ballot language about prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Councilman Craig Covey, who brought the proposed ordinance back before council earlier this year, encouraged voters to read the whole document at the city’s Web site at www.ferndale-mi.com.