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Battle Creek Becomes Municipality Number 26 For Human Rights In State

Among those speaking in favor of the ordinance was One Battle Creek Chair Charlie Fulbright, who presented signatures of 1,100 people who supported the ordinance at the last Commission meeting. The City Commission voted 8-1 for the human rights ordinance on Sept 3.

Organizers of the One Battle Creek wanted "a sea of blue shirts" in the audience for the Sept. 3 City Commission meeting to let elected officials know about support for their proposed human rights ordinance. After a contentious meeting last month with supporters and dissenters speaking, Larry Dillon of Battle Creek Pride simply asked that those who supported protections for LGBT people in housing and employment to stand. Dozens did. And the Commission responded.
The Commission voted 8-1 to adopt the ordinance, with only Vice Mayor Elizabeth Fulton in opposition. "I don't think it's the government's role," Fulton said. "We have to start with each and every one of us. We have to change our hearts. Government shouldn't tell you how to feel. That's your job to make that decision… If we don't change our hearts, discrimination is going to continue whether there is a law or not."
Among those speaking in favor of the ordinance was One Battle Creek Chair Charlie Fulbright, who presented signatures of 1,100 people who supported the ordinance at the last Commission meeting. "This human rights ordinance is a necessity to the growth and equality for all in Battle Creek. Regardless of personal religion or philosophical beliefs, the issue at hand is equality in housing and employment for all in Battle Creek. We have many supporters that are in each of your wards that want each of you to support this human rights ordinance," he said. Fulbright added, "I can't be fired for being black, but I can be fired for being gay. That doesn't make any sense to me." He also quoted John F. Kennedy stating, "The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened."
A young lady named Abbey Flora spoke as well. "It's immoral that somebody is treated differently just because of their sexual orientation and gender identity," she said. "It's your job to take our voices and make this city great and it's the political system's job to protect us."
Kate Florez of Voices in Spanish said that her organization "strongly stands in support of promoting inclusion and equal opportunity for all."
Dillon called out fellow supporters saying, "In the LGBT world we have a saying. Because we have been under a lot of stress in society we feel that we share a common bond and therefore we are one family and our allies have joined that family. So we feel very strongly as kindred brothers and sisters… There are a lot of people inside of this who have not been able to stand up and say we are gay or we are lesbian. There might be retribution visited on them. For me, a couple of years ago that would have been true."
The decision makes Battle Creek the 26th municipality to adopt such an ordinance. Other cities include Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Ferndale, Detroit, and Muskegon. The ordinances not only protect people in those cities, but they help show legislators at the state level that there is support for making Michigan's nondiscrimination statute inclusive of LGBT people.
Royal Oak's ordinance is currently in limbo, with the matter going to a public vote in November. One Royal Oak is looking for support in that fight.



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