by Jessica Carreras
The heated fight over the anti-discrimination ordinance in Hamtramck continues, leaving the city’s LGBT community in uncertainty as to whether or not they will be protected come November.
The ordinance was originally passed 6-1 in June by the City Council but was turned over to the Nov. 4 ballot July 30 after Ypsilanti resident Jay McNeely, backed by Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, turned in the 417 signatures necessary to repeal the decision.
Since then, support has grown rapidly on both sides of the debate. Openly-gay City Councilman Scott Klein, with the help of the Triangle Foundation and Michigan Equality, started Hamtramck United to raise funds, gain support and urge residents to vote “no” on the measure, which would overturn the ordinance.
If put into law, the ordinance would protect Hamtramck residents from discrimination in areas including housing, employment and access to city services. The ordinance includes wording that would make illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Opposition to the ordinance, which includes Hamtramck City Councilmembers Kathy Gordon and Abdul Algazali, has also been mounting. Recently, local Catholic Priest Rev. Andy Wesley, pastor of Transfiguration Catholic Parish and Academy in Detroit and also of St. Ladislaus Church in Hamtramck has joined the local Islamic Imam in fighting the ordinance. Wesley expressed his position to the Hamtramck Knights of Columbus group, who have since voiced their support of overturning the ordinance.
Still, proponents of the ordinance remained at ease. “I think, unfortunately, that we need to expect that things like that will happen, said Transgender Michigan Co-Founder and Executive Director Rachel Crandall. “We need to be prepared and we need to be ready to fight that. We can’t just think that things are going to happen easily.
It’s going to take a lot of work to try to fight that. However, I think our community is up to it.”