Update: Video from the educational gathering below.
Update: Unity Michigan will host an educational gathering in defense of the inclusive ordinance at 2 p.m. March 14 in front of the Royal Oak Post Office.
ROYAL OAK – The battle for equal rights protections in Royal Oak continues, as the Human Rights Ordinance that was passed by the City Commission on March 4 is on hold thanks to a petition of 100 signatures turned in on Tuesday.
The signatures came in at 3 p.m. on March 13, just within the ten-day window for residents to block an ordinance. One hundred signatures puts the ordinance on hold, giving those opposed to the ordinance an additional 21 days to collect a percentage of signatures based on the voter turnout of the most recent municipal election. Petitioners must get over 800 signatures to comply. If this were accomplished, the ordinance would then go back to the Commission who could either vote the ordinance down completely, or put it on the ballot for November.
Commissioner Jim Rasor, who introduced the bill that would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and accommodations, is disappointed but not shocked. Twelve years ago Royal Oak residents voted down a similar ordinance, with the opposition being led by resident Fred Birchard and backed by the American Family Association. Birchard turned in the signatures this time around as well.
Birchard is falsely labeling the ordinance an “anti-privacy bill,” and has written letters to the editor of the Daily Tribune and the Royal Oak Review with the misnomer. “The Royal Oak City Commission is in the process of passing the most radical anti-privacy law in our history. Women and girls are going to be subjected to men and boys who think they are women and girls using their public bathrooms, dressing rooms, showers and playing on their sports teams. This also includes inside our schools,” Birchard wrote in the Daily Tribune.
Rasor urged the public “don’t be scared into signing something without reading it.” He also said that if there are petition-gatherers out there, people are within their rights to stand near them and tell people what they are really signing for. “Don’t sign for hate, don’t discriminate,” is a mantra Rasor hopes will catch on in the coming weeks.
“There is a very small minority of people who do not believe in equality and want to discriminate and hate. I don’t think that group represents the people who live here in Royal Oak because of the cosmopolitan, diverse nature of our city,” Rasor said. “It’s unfortunate that outside hate group money is behind this effort to promote discrimination. Hopefully people in Royal Oak will not be tricked into signing this petition. But we’re not afraid of a fight at the ballot box if it comes to it.”
To read more about the ordinance, see our previous article at https://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=58775.