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MICHIGAN MESSENGER — Foes of ("gay rights") ordinance in Kalamazoo turn in signatures

August 18, 2009

“Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, provided the following statement to Michigan Messenger by e-mail: ‘We commend the African-American churches and others who led a diverse coalition of Kalamazoo citizens who are saying “no” to a discriminatory ordinance that threatens religious freedom and conscience and the privacy rights of women and children. We will support them any way we can in opposing an ordinance that in other jurisdictions has been used to discriminate against and punish both individual business owners and cherished community groups such as Catholic Charities, the Boy Scouts, United Way, and the Salvation Army.’ Glenn’s statement concluded by alleging that Kalamazoo ordinance supporters had not been able to document any cases of discrimination in the area and called the ordinance ‘a discriminatory solution in search of a non-existent problem.’”

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MICHIGAN MESSENGER
Lansing, Michigan
July 30, 2009

Foes of anti-discrimination ordinance
in Kalamazoo turn in signatures

Opponents of a recently adopted anti-discrimination ordinance in Kalamazoo are one step closer to putting the ordinance on hold and forcing a vote on the ordinance by city residents.

Kalamazoo Citizens Voting No to Special Rights Discrimination spokesman Charles Ybema told the Kalamazoo Gazette his group had collected 2,088 signatures. Those signatures were turned over to Kalamazoo City Clerk Scott Borling. To put the ordinance up to a vote, opponents needed only 1,273 valid signatures of Kalamazoo voters.

Borling told the newspaper that as soon as he certified the signatures — or verified their validity — the ordinance would be suspended. It went into effect July 9, and opponents had 20 days to collect the needed signatures to force a vote.

Ybema did not return calls seeking comment, but Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, provided the following statement to Michigan Messenger by e-mail:

We commend the African-American churches and others who led a diverse coalition of Kalamazoo citizens who are saying “no” to a discriminatory ordinance that threatens religious freedom and conscience and the privacy rights of women and children. We will support them any way we can in opposing an ordinance that in other jurisdictions has been used to discriminate against and punish both individual business owners and cherished community groups such as Catholic Charities, the Boy Scouts, United Way, and the Salvation Army.

Glenn’s statement concluded by alleging that Kalamazoo ordinance supporters had not been able to document any cases of discrimination in the area and called the ordinance “a discriminatory solution in search of a non-existent problem.”

But supporters of the ordinance were also collecting signatures, and they held a press conference in front of city hall this afternoon to unveil the results of their actions. Kalamazoo Alliance For Equality said it had collected 5,708 signatures in support of the ordinance, reports Bil Browning at Bilerico.

The signatures collected by KAFE will not impact whether or not the issue makes it to the ballot.

Browning provides the following quote from Amy Hunter of Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality on his blog:

“The purpose of this ordinance is simple: everyone should be treated the same way on the job, in the housing market, and in public places … By collecting 5,708 signatures, we’re here to affirm what the City Commission already knew when they voted — Kalamazoo citizens support basic fairness for everyone, reject discrimination, and want to build a united community.”

Also on Bilerico is the complete text of the speeches from KAFE’s press conference today, and here’s what Terry Kueseke had to say:

The sample petitions you get from the City Clerk has room for 12 signatures on a page. We printed out 13 signatures per page and we still collected 437 pages of signatures.

What do 437 pages of names mean?

If you lined up all those pages it would be enough to reach from the top of city hall to the ground and back again.

If you lined up all those pages we could stretch all the way across Bronson Park.

But most importantly, if you lined up all the pages you’d see a community united in support of equality. There are many things that make all of us different from each other, but one of the things that bring us together is we can agree that discrimination is wrong. People who work hard should all have an equal opportunity to succeed, and that’s exactly what the Kalamazoo Non-Discrimination ordinance does.

This is only the latest round in a battle to pass a comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance in the southwest Michigan town. The city council passed the ordinance last December, but revoked it when opponents collected enough signatures to put the ordinance up to a vote. At the time, they promised to pass it again, and did so in June. But only after holding hearings on the ordinance, including a special meeting that last nearly four and half hours.

Other Michigan cities with similar ordinances are Grand Ledge, Lansing, Grand Rapids, East Lansing and Detroit and Ann Arbor. Hamtrammck voters rejected an ordinance last Nov. The city of Jackson is preparing to consider passage of an ordinance on Aug. 11. Supporters and opponents have promised a ballot battle if the ordinance passes there.

http://michiganmessenger.com/23983/foes-of-anti-discrimination-ordinance-in-kalamazoo-turn-in-signatures
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