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DETROIT NEWS — Will Ferndale anti-bias measure pass this time?

October 24, 2006

“In the days leading up to the Nov. 7 election, customers are also talking about the city’s human rights ordinance which, if approved, would ban discrimination against gays, lesbians, transgendered and bisexuals in Ferndale. …Organized opposition to the proposal exists locally and statewide. The American Family Association of Michigan has announced its intention to defeat the measure in November. The Midland-based group has opposed similar measures across the state.”

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DETROIT NEWS
Detroit, Michigan
October 24, 2006

Will Ferndale anti-bias measure pass this time?
Supporters say residents are ready
by Jennifer Chambers / The Detroit News

FERNDALE — Dating dramas, travel plans and hot independent films are the typical conversation fare floating around Kevin Rogers’ business, Just For Us, a gay-friendly variety store in downtown Ferndale.
But in the days leading up to the Nov. 7 election, customers are also talking about the city’s human rights ordinance which, if approved, would ban discrimination against gays, lesbians, transgendered and bisexuals in Ferndale.

“It looks like it’s going to go through. There is a lot of support in the community,” said Rogers, who has posted signs supporting the ballot proposal in his storefront window. “The last time, it only lost by 117 votes. I think the community has changed a lot, and the opposition is gone.”

Rogers is referring to 2000, when Ferndale voters defeated a similar measure. Voters also rejected one in 1991.

Ann Heler, a co-founder of Ferndale Alliance Valuing Our Residents, said residents are now ready to embrace such a measure, which makes it a civil infraction carrying up to $500 in fines to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation in access to employment, housing and public services.

Since the 2000 election, Ferndale has blossomed in terms of residents and business, Heler said. The downtown business district is booming; less than 5 percent of commercial properties are unoccupied. The $5 million Affirmations community center for gays and lesbians is being built downtown with private funds.

“We have had so many new people move into Ferndale since 2000,” she said. “They moved knowing Ferndale is diverse. This is not a secret. People move here because of it. They mean to live here. It’s the diversity that has attracted it. I think this is the time to pass it.”

Organized opposition to the proposal exists locally and statewide.

The American Family Association of Michigan has announced its intention to defeat the measure in November. The Midland-based group has opposed similar measures across the state.

Ferndale resident Thomas Gagne has created a blog to voice his opposition to a measure he calls purely symbolic and unnecessary. Voters have already said no twice, and current laws already protect all residents from discrimination, Gagne said.
“It has nothing to do with whether they deserve protection. It has to do with putting a notch on the garter belt of special interest. The GLTB community are looking to knock cities off their list,” Gagne said.

“It’s a bad ordinance. I don’t think they are like spotted owls. They are not on an endangered species list. They have no trouble getting jobs in Ferndale,” Gagne said.

Twelve Michigan communities have successfully passed such a measure, including Birmingham, Huntington Woods, Oak Park, Detroit, Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Saginaw and Grand Rapids, according to Sean Kosofsky with the Triangle Foundation.

On the ballot

Ferndale voters on Nov. 7 will decide a proposal that would ensure equal opportunity to everyone in employment, housing, public accommodations and public services. It is designed to ban discrimination against gays, lesbians, transgendered and bisexuals in Ferndale.

http://www.detnews.com/

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