National And Local Rulings Impacting West Michigan Gay Community

Posted at 10:39 PM, Jun 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-25 22:39:52-04

OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make two rulings that could impact the lives of gays and lesbians across the country.

The court could decide if same-sex couples should be eligible for federal benefits.  It could also decide if gay people were discriminated against when California voted to ban same-sex marriage with its Proposition 8 in 2008.

Those decisions could come as soon as 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26.

At the same time, the issue of sexual orientation discrimination was discussed at the local level in West Michigan.  In Kalamazoo County, the Oshtemo Township Board considered a discrimination ordinance during its meeting on June 25.

The township hall was packed with supporters urging board members to consider passage of an ordinance that would prohibit employers, landlords and township employees from discriminating against people due to their sexual orientation.

Maxwell Isaac, a local transgendered person, said during the public comment of the meeting Tuesday, “I would like you to look.  This is the face of a community that you would be turning down if you choose to ignore this ordinance.”

Molly Williams, a 45-year resident of the township added, “It would promote justice and fairness and establish this township among the leaders who would welcome everyone.”

One issue that concerned board members was how to enforce a discrimination ordinance.

In the end, the township board voted to write a policy that they will not tolerate sexual orientation discrimination to be discussed at the next board meeting.

The Oshtemo Township board said it wants to take a close look at a similar ordinance in the city of Kalamazoo.  The Kalamazoo City Commission is expected to vote on that ordinance July 22.