A unanimous vote to amend discrimination law
Mount Pleasant Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously passed an amendment to the “Chapter 39: Human Rights of the Mount Pleasant Code of Ordinances”.
The law now protects discrimination against sexual orientation and gender expression in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Vice Mayor Mary Alsager said she wants every aspect of the community to be welcoming.
“Everyone was just so pleased that we all supported it, and all vocalized support for it,” she said. “So, we were just glad that it was a unanimous decision that was made.”
During the meeting, City Commissioner Maureen Eke voiced her approval of the amendment. She said this is only the first step and she wants these efforts to continue to advance.
Three residents spoke up during the public hearing. Each of them said there is much more work to be done. David Sickelka was the first to approach the stand.
“It may seem like the state did it, so let’s just jump on the bandwagon,” he said. “But this is much more important, I think, than that. And I applaud you (Board of Trustees) for considering this, and I urge you to pass it, then to think about how to make it stronger.”
Sickelka said he moved from Iowa which has recently enacted laws that are opposite to Michigan’s recent changes. He said his friends that still live there have said they want to move too because they fear for their safety.
Tom Armstrong was the second to voice his opinion. He said his son is LGTBQ+ and is an active member of the Mount Pleasant community, was a part of the United Methodist Church and was a student at Central Michigan University.
“The only place of those four he could suffer institutional discrimination was his church,” Armstrong said. “The church hated it.”
Armstrong said he is proud of the Board for presenting this amendment and agreed with Sickelka that it is not enough, but “it’s what we can get.”
“Mount Pleasant, in my mind is already a fairly welcoming community,” Vice Mayor Alsager said. “But I think we can always work to be more so.”
The city previously prohibited discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status and gender identity.
The recent change to add protections for sexual orientation and gender expression were made to better reflect the state’s amendment to the Michigan Elliot Larsen Act.
In March, Governor Whitmer signed an amendment to the Michigan Elliot Larsen Act. The original act prohibited discriminatory practices, policies and customs based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status. The state now includes gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.