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BY AJ TRAGER
CHELSEA – In a 4-1 vote by City Council, on Jan. 19 Chelsea became the 42nd city in Michigan to adopt a nondiscrimination ordinance, furthering protections for LGBT residents in the area.
The ordinance (Ordinance No. 175) received its first reading on Jan. 4. Directly following the reading the council requested two changes be made to the language. The ordinance now includes language regarding an administrative policy for appointing representatives to the city’s Human Rights Commission, of which the ordinance establishes, and now includes a provision requiring that a copy of every resident complaint be provided to City Council.
“It is the intent of the city that no individual shall be denied equal protection of the laws; nor shall any individual be denied the enjoyment of his or her civil or political rights or be discriminated against because of actual or perceived age, color, disability, familial status, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, height, disability status, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, source of income, veteran status or weight,” Ordinance No. 175 reads.
The new legislation includes definitions of familial status and gender expression and identity. The ordinance also spells out specific exceptions and exemptions. Two council members, Jane Pacheco and Peter Feeney, were absent from the meeting. Mayor Jason Lindauer voted against the ordinance.
The push to adopt the ordinance began in the spring of last year when Chelsea resident Anthony Shakeshaft and his husband Tom Toon approached the council with the idea. The couple has been together for over 20 years and are the first gay couple to marry in Washtenaw County – married on March 22, 2014.
“It’s great to know that a traditional community like Chelsea welcomes and values diversity,” Shakeshaft told BTL. “This was particularly evident during the process as there was tremendous support from our community and City Council.”
Toon and Shakeshaft shared an international relationship, spending time both in Michigan and the U.K. Last year Shakeshaft made Michigan his permanent address and the couple began fighting to have their marriage recognized and for that union to provide Shakeshaft with a green card. Following the marriage equality decision in June of last year, Shakeshaft was the first individual in the state to receive a green card on the basis of same-sex marriage, Shakeshaft said.
The new nondiscrimination ordinance will go into effect 20 days after publication in the city’s newspaper.