Lansing Ordinance set for human rights vote

By | 2006-12-14T09:00:00-04:00 December 14th, 2006|News|

LANSING – The Lansing City Council will likely vote on the Comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance Monday, Dec. 18. The eight-member council is expected to pass the ordinance unanimously.
Council member originally thought the ordinance would come to a vote Dec. 11, but held moving the ordinance out of committee while Council members Kathie Dunbar and Sandy Allen negotiated with religious leaders on the ordinance.
“It deserves to get input from all parts of the community,” says Allen, chair of the committee overseeing the ordinance’s creation. “We want to make sure we get the most input from all facets of the community to have as clear and as concise a document as possible. We want to have a really good document.”
Lansing media erroneously reported the ordinance was on hold because of opposition from the religious community–specifically the Catholic Diocese of Lansing. But officials from the Diocese have been meeting privately with Dunbar, she confirms. “We’ve had very fruitful discussions,” she said after the Dec. 11 Council meeting.
The most recent draft of the ordinance also has two major additions.
First, the ordinance now has a provision allowing restrictions on the use of shower or changing areas in health clubs and recreational facilities. Under the new language, if separate and private facilities do not exist, it is permissible to restrict the use of such areas on the basis of sex.
In a nod to religious pressure that the ordinance could force a church to hire a person who does not conform with the church’s beliefs, the new language allows religious organizations and institutions to restrict employment opportunities, housing facilities or public accommodations run by the organization to person’s who conform to the organization’s “moral tenets.”
The council meeting on Dec. 18 will be an extraordinary event in City Council history as it will be the body’s 51st meeting. The City Charter only requires 50 meetings per year. The Dec. 18 meeting was approved by a 4-2 vote of the council.
Council member Brian Jeffries said following the meeting he did not oppose the special meeting because it might address the Human Rights Ordinance, rather he opposed it because the agenda is wide open.
Jeffries is part of a faction on council currently fighting to control the process to replace Lansing City Councilmember Joan Bauer, who is resigning Jan. 1 to take the 68th State House seat across the street from city hall.
In the debate on the resolution authorizing the Monday Dc. 18 meeting, Councilmember Tim Kaltenbach, who introduced the resolution, told the council the meeting should cover three items: a cable contract, the Human Rights Ordinance, and laying out the protocol to replace Bauer.
“I am anxious to debate the human rights ordinance and vote yes on it,” he said following the meeting. He will be canceling plans for an out of town trip to attend the newly scheduled meeting.

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