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Two Michigan Cities Pass Nondiscrimination Ordinances

By |2016-06-30T09:00:00-04:00June 30th, 2016|Michigan, News|


HOWELL and PORTAGE – In the last week two cities in the state have added LGBT protections to their nondiscrimination ordinances.
Howell and Portage become the 39th and 40th city to step up and protect their LGBT residents and visitors by adding full protections for LGBT individuals.
A growing list of 45 local government agencies have adopted nondiscrimination ordinances since East Lansing adopted its ordinance in 1972. Of the 45 ordinances passed in the state, five are not comprehensive and exclude either gender identity and expression or only extend protections to housing and public accommodations and don’t include employment protections.


“Howell and Portage are to be commended for standing up for equality and fairness and against discrimination,” said Equality Michigan Executive Director Stephanie White. “These cities recognize that building communities in Michigan that are inclusive and welcoming to all is not only the right thing to do, but also an economic imperative for our state.”
Howell unanimously passed its ordinance June 25. According to the Livingston Daily, Councilman Steve Manor told the council that the city’s business community has reacted in strong favor of the ordinance. Manor and fellow councilman Robert Ellis were tasked with reaching out to employers and landlords.
The Howell ordinance is based on the Battle Creek ordinance enacted three years ago and is designed to supplement federal anti-discrimination law.


The Portage City Council adopted its nondiscrimination ordinance June 28 following a 6-1 vote that would extend protections in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. Forty people spoke in the lengthy City Council meeting that garnered over 175 attendees.
“Portage chose to do the right thing last night by ensuring Portage is a safe place to work, live, and build community for all its residents,” said Jay Maddock, executive director of the KGLRC. “All hard-working people in our state, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. Michigan should be helping people keep their jobs and homes, not firing them because of who they love or evicting them because of their gender identity.”
Supporters of the measure said that it is needed because LGBT individuals deserve the same civil rights as their heterosexual counterparts and should have the same protection as other communities including the city of Kalamazoo and Oshtemo Twp.
“All of the Michigan local ordinances were looked at to model our ordinance,” Councilman Terry Urban told BTL weeks before the vote. “It doesn’t match completely any of them because of evolving definitions of transgender and other things, but we’ve tried to take the best parts and evolving language and situations to come up with the best ordinance.”
The ordinance was proposed by Urban to the Human Services Board months ago, but told MLive that he’s “18 years too late. That’s how long I’ve been sitting here (as a council member).”
The Portage nondiscrimination ordinance received strong support from the area’s largest employers, the Kellog Co. and Pfizer Inc.
The Michigan legislature has yet to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, the state’s nondiscrimination act that offers protections in housing, employment and public accommodations for an individuals age, weight, race, disability status ect. but does not extend protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Pretty much every year representatives in the house and senate issue bills to amend ELCRA but the legislature has yet to take it to a vote.
“Our leaders in Lansing should look to the example being set by their local government colleagues and business leaders across Michigan,” urged White. “Action on Elliott-Larsen is long overdue.”
Two million Michiganders are now protected by local nondiscrimination ordinances, but millions remain unprotected. The adoption of ordinances by Howell and Portage is a stark reminder of state inaction on legislation to amend the ELCRA to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Comprehensive List of Michigan Communities with Nondiscrimination Ordinances

Courtesy of Equality Michigan. Arranged alphabetically and not chronologically by date issued.
1. Canton Township
2. City of Adrian
3. City of Albion
4. City of Ann Arbor
5. City of Battle Creek
6. City of Chelsea
7. City of Dearborn Heights
8. City of Detroit
9. City of East Grand Rapids
10. City of East Lansing
11. City of Farmington Hills
12. City of Fenton
13. City of Ferndale
14. City of Grand Rapids
15. City of Howell
16. City of Huntington Woods
17. City of Kalamazoo
18. City of Lansing
19. City of Linden
20. City of Marquette
21. City of Mt. Pleasant
22. City of Muskegon
23. City of Pleasant Ridge
24. City of Portage
25. City of Royal Oak
26. City of Saugatuck
27. City of Southfield
28. City of Trenton
29. City of Wayland
30. City of Ypsilanti
31. Delhi Township
32. Delta Charter Township
33. Kalamazoo Township
34. Lathrup Village
35. Meridian Township
36. Oshtemo Township
37. Saugatuck Township
38. Traverse City
39. Union Township
40. Village of Douglas
*A comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance prohibits discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Michigan Communities Providing Partial Protection

1. Bay City – SOGI, but only housing.
2. City of Birmingham – Sexual orientation only; Housing only.
3. City of Flint – SOGI, but housing and public accommodations only.
4. City of Grand Ledge – Sexual orientation only.
5. City of Saginaw – Sexual orientation only; Housing only.

About the Author:

Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.
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