LGBT rights ordinance upheld in Royal Oak

Royal OakVoters in Royal Oak easily approved a local ordinance that protects people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The final but-still-unofficial tally was 6,645 to 5,670, or 54-46 percent.

Royal Oak is the 30th Michigan community to adopt an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance. Opponents went to the ballot in an effort to block it after it was first approved last March by the city council.

Fadwa Ganders was a leader of the opposition campaign. She says the referendum failed in part because of an absence of support among Royal Oak’s religious leaders.

“If the church leaders had stood and spoke out, this would have been a slam dunk,” she told The Detroit News.

Emily Dievendorf of Equality Michigan says five to 10 other Michigan communities are looking at adopting similar ordinances.

“So we do think its creating quite the statement, and a lot of pressure for state government to do the right thing,” she says. “I think as more non-discrimination policies are passed at the local level, that it does make quite the statement that are legislators are not doing the job that our citizens are expected of them.”

“The right thing,” she says, would be to add LGBT protections to Michigan’s civil rights law. There is an effort underway to do that, but there’s still no bill formally introduced in the Legislature. Gov. Rick Snyder refuses to say whether he would support amending the civil rights law.

There is an effort underway at the state Capitol to add LGBT protections to Michigan’s civil rights law – although no legislation has been formally introduced.

The Royal Oak ordinance is not strictly about LGBT rights. The full ordinance mentions “race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, condition of pregnancy, marital status, physical or mental limitation, source of income, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status.”