GRAND RAPIDS PRESS — Holland gay rights supporters announce plan to get anti-discrimination ordinance passed
|Praise the Lord! Homosexual activists know what the outcome
of a ballot vote would be in a city where voters supported our
state Marriage Protection Amendment by 64 percent of the vote.
“Backers of a proposal to expand Hollandâ€™s anti-discrimination ordinance to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes will not pursue a ballot measure to overturn last monthâ€™s City Council vote against the proposal. Instead, supporters plan to attend Wednesdayâ€™s council meeting and all future meetings until one of the five council members who voted no changes their vote.”
GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
Holland gay rights supporters announce plan
by Greg Chandler / The Grand Rapids Press
HOLLAND â€“ Backers of a proposal to expand Hollandâ€™s anti-discrimination ordinance to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes will not pursue a ballot measure to overturn last monthâ€™s City Council vote against the proposal.
Instead, supporters plan to attend Wednesdayâ€™s council meeting and all future meetings until one of the five council members who voted no changes their vote.
â€œI donâ€™t think you ask the majority to vote for the rights of the minority,â€ said Bill Freeman, chaplain of Interfaith Congregation, who has been campaigning for the proposal for more than a year. â€œI donâ€™t think Dr. (Martin Luther) King asked the people of Alabama to vote for civil rights, and I donâ€™t think you should ask the people of Holland to vote for equal rights for all.â€
Supporters of the proposal would have had to get petition language approved by the city, and then collect at least 1,310 signatures by mid-August to put it on the November ballot.
The City Council voted 5-4 June 15 against amending the cityâ€™s human relations and fair housing ordinances, as well as its equal employment policy, to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
â€œWeâ€™re going to try to educate them and answer any questions they might have,â€ Freeman said of the supportersâ€™ plans to attend council meetings.
About 100 people gathered on the steps of City Hall Monday morning for the announcement, with many representing organizations who favor including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in equal rights measures. Erin Wilson, of the group Until Love Is Equal, called it a regional and economic issue.
â€œIn a recession, you have to be pragmatic,â€ said Wilson, of Grand Rapids. â€œMajor employers are not going to come into a region that declares a particular community as unequal. They just wonâ€™t.â€
Opponents of the measure cite religious and moral objections to homosexuality in their position, and say that existing anti-discrimination laws are adequate. One statewide political action group, the Michigan Campaign for Families, said it would support candidates to run against three council members who voted in favor of expanding the ordinance and who are up for re-election this year.
One of those three council members, Second Ward Councilman Jay Peters, called the decision not to seek a ballot proposal â€œprudent,â€ although he would not speculate whether any of the five council members who voted against the measure would change their mind.
â€œI think the timeline is tight (for a ballot proposal), and to be effective and successful, Iâ€™d like to see us regroup as a community and come at it from a different angle,â€ Peters said.
Mayor Kurt Dykstra cast the tiebreaking vote against expanding the ordinance. Others who voted against the proposal were Councilwoman Nancy DeBoer and Councilmen Mike Trethewey, Brian Burch and Todd Whiteman.
Voting in favor of the expansion were Peters, Mayor Pro Tem Bob Vande Vusse and Councilmen Dave Hoekstra and Shawn Miller.