Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
by Jessica Carreras
In June, the Hamtramck City Council passed a human rights ordinance that prohibits discrimination in areas such as housing, employment and public services based on, among other things, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Shortly thereafter, Ypsilanti resident Jay McNeely – backed by Gary Glenn of the American Family Association, a notable anti-LGBT group – gathered the necessary signatures on a petition that put the measure up for vote.
On Nov. 4, the citizens of Hamtramck will decide whether or not all their citizens are to be protected against discrimination.
“These are rights we all deserve. These are rights to which the city of Hamtramck is committed,” Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski stressed at a press conference earlier this month. “It is regrettable that some people are opposing this ordinance. In effect, opposing equal treatment under the law for their own family members, for their friends, for their neighbors.”
The fight for and against the ordinance has sparked a division within some in the city. Supporters on both sides now include religious leaders in both the Catholic and Muslim communities. “Our Catholic faith calls us to affirm the dignity of all persons and welcome all those who are made in the image of god,” said Brian Peck of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. “Fear and hatred of persons who are different than oneself are not taught by the church. In fact, the opposite is true. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to protect those who are most vulnerable in society.”
“It is not in the image of Christ to deny our brothers and sisters the freedoms we wish for ourselves,” LGBT Catholic group Dignity Detroit said in a statement released this month. “Creating an environment where all can contribute and coexist regardless of their race, creed, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity is what makes us a better society. To deny anyone a place at the table for any reason is morally wrong.”
Though the opposition has been strong against the ordinance, support for it continues to mount. Michigan Equality, ACLU of Michigan, the Triangle Foundation and most of the members of the Hamtramck City Council have all come out in support of the ordinance.
Support is also coming from politicians, including Congressman John Conyers, Jr., State Sen. Martha G. Scott and State Rep. Bert Johnson. “We’re all god’s children and we ought to be treated alike no matter what our gender is, or the color of our skin,” Sen. Scott said. “I mean, we’re here and I believe that god gave me this district because I understand how to treat each and every one and I believe that that’s what this proposal is all about.”
“On issues that are this important, we can find ourselves standing together collectively saying to the people and the special interests who show up to Hamtramck to divide us with hate and rhetoric that they should go home,” agreed Rep. Johnson. “Hamtramck is not the place that we want folks to believe is a basin for hatred. We will continue to be inclusive and not exclusive. We will continue to ask folks of all backgrounds to come and join us here in Hamtramck and to continue to build this region and to move Michigan forward.”
The driving force behind the ordinance is local group Hamtramck United, founded specifically for the purpose of urging voters to pass the ordinance. “The fact is no one’s basic civil rights should ever be put up for a vote,” said Co-Chair Richard Sparks. “Unfortunately, in our beloved city it is. This is an incredible injustice that I urge my fellow residents to act against. We cannot and should not tolerate this hypocrisy.”
“The fact is no one, whether you’re black or white, gay or straight, Catholic or Muslim, a landlord or a tenant, wants to pay lawyers and judges to remedy discrimination injustice,” he continued. “This ordinance speaks to that and that’s why the special rights group has clearly avoided talking about this because they are seeking the special right to discriminate against a group of people simply because who that person is, and that, in my book, is absolutely wrong.”
If the ordinance is passed, Hamtramck will become the 17th Michigan city to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people. Cities with ordinances already in place include Ann Arbor, Ferndale, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Traverse City.
Between The Lines fully supports the Hamtramck human rights ordinance and urges all citizens of the city to vote ‘yes’ on Nov. 4