HAZEL PARK – The Hazel Park City Council tonight introduced Ordinance 01-21, a Human Rights Ordinance that would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and public services on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, height or weight, marital status, familial status, national origin, disability and sexual orientation.
The ordinance's first reading passed unanimously, and it will be entered for a second reading at the Council's next regularly scheduled meeting on March 23. It is expected to advance to a third reading and be adopted in April.
The Human Rights Ordinance was introduced by Councilmember Luke Londo, a recent appointee to the Council.
"Hazel Park has consistently played an oversized role in the pursuit of equality for the LGBTQ community," Londo said. "As a proud Hazel Park resident who is also bisexual, I am honored to play a role in moving our community forward, and cementing our status as a leader in the fight for LGBTQ rights."
Two Hazel Park residents filed suit in 2012 challenging Michigan's ban on adoption by same-sex couples. They subsequently amended their complaint, additionally challenging Michigan's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The suit, DeBoer v. Snyder, was eventually consolidated with three others as Obergefell v. Hodges, which culminated in a decision by the United States Supreme Court requiring all states to grant same-sex marriages and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who represented the couple in DeBoer v. Snyder, commended the Council's action.
"The ongoing struggle for LGBTQ civil rights requires bravery, and the fortitude of those in a position to inspire change to do so," Nessel said. "Just as two courageous residents did before them, I applaud the Hazel Park City Council for standing up and doing the right thing."
The Hazel Park Human Rights Ordinance includes the same protected classes within the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and expands it to include disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. It mirrors ordinances adopted in nearby communities.
City Manager Ed Klobucher, who has served Hazel Park since 2003, recognized the City's unique history in LGBTQ efforts.
"Hazel Park voted against Michigan's same-sex marriage ban in 2004, two of its residents helped achieve marriage equality nationwide, and now the City Council is seeking to eliminate discrimination against the LGBTQ community within our borders," Klobucher said. "I am proud of our newest councilmember, Luke Londo, for introducing this ordinance – and of the rest of Council for their foresight in advancing it forward."
The introduction of the Human Rights Ordinance occurs amidst a renewed interest in expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include provisions for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. A ballot question committee, Fair and Equal Michigan, is currently awaiting certification of petitions for a legislative initiative by the Michigan Department of State. Successful certification would place the proposed initiative in front of the Michigan legislature, which further defines "sex" within the Act as encompassing gender identity and expression, as well as expanding the Act to include sexual orientation.
"There continues to be a need for statewide protections for the LGBTQ community, and we will only get there with the ongoing support of Michigan residents, businesses and other organizations," said Fair and Equal Michigan Chairman Trevor Thomas. "We are grateful for cities like Hazel Park who share our vision and passion for the pursuit for LGBTQ civil rights."
If the legislature fails to adopt Fair and Equal Michigan's proposal within 40 days of certification, the matter will go in front of voters in the November 2022 general election. Councilmember Londo sits on the honorary leadership committee of Fair and Equal Michigan.
Additionally, Michigan Senator Jeremy Moss – one of three openly-gay legislators and whose district includes Hazel Park – introduced a bill, SB208, in the Michigan Senate that would amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. A similar bill, HB4297, was introduced in the Michigan House by Representative Laurie Pohutsky.
"Tonight's action by the Hazel Park City Council further demonstrates that LGBTQ discrimination has no place in our cities or our state," said Senator Moss. "I am proud to represent communities who understand the importance of advancing LGBTQ equality, and implore my colleagues to do the same."
Hazel Park City Council has issued proclamations recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month since 2018. Additionally, the City has raised an LGBTQ Pride Flag outside City Hall annually since 2018, and held its first "Pride in the Park" event in 2019.
The proposed ordinance was seconded by Councilmember Alissa Sullivan and supported by Councilmember Mike McFall, Mayor Pro Tem Andy LeCureaux and Mayor Mike Webb. The entire draft Human Rights Ordinance can be read here.