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The new Holland city council is likely to soon discuss new ordinance language that would protect LGBTQ residents from discrimination, and this time around there is a greater chance it will pass.
New Mayor Nathan Books said the city council will probably bring up such an ordinance when it meets in January for its annual priority-setting session. He added that he expects the council to direct the city staff and legal counsel to begin working on ordinance language for the council for review.
“With a new makeup of council I believe there is a greater likelihood of passage of changes in Holland’s non-discrimination ordinance related to LGBTQ+ protections,” said Books, who defeated incumbent Mayor Nancy DeBoer in the November election. “I am as supportive of LGBTQ+ protections as I was during the campaign and I will make the issue one of my top priorities at the (priority-setting meeting) and moving forward.”
Books was one of five council members who were elected in November after vowing support for anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ residents. Also elected were incumbents Jay Peters and David Hoekstra and new council members Lyn Raymond and Nicki Arendshorst. Being defeated were DeBoer and council challenger Vicky-Lynn Holmes, who campaigned together and wouldn’t support LGBT protections.
“I do get the sense that since the recent election, there is renewed interest in revisiting our ordinance that impact Holland’s LGBTQ community,” Peters said. “With 1/3 of the council new to their positions, we will need to have a collective discussion on where we have been on the matter, where we are now and where we want to go as city leaders.
“It is my hope the upcoming annual retreat in January will provide an opportunity for the discussion and produce a consensus on any next steps.”
The Holland City Council in 2011 voted 5-4 in opposition to adding LGBTQ residents to those protected by the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance. Now, however, as many as six council members are in favor of taking such a step.
“I have talked to many people in the community and the consensus seems to be that not only do we want to move forward with new ordinance language, we want to make sure that it is done correctly so it receives the appropriate amount of community input and that a new ordinance will survive a legal challenge,” Books said.