East Grand Rapids votes for amendment to ensure there is no discrimination

Posted at 10:21 PM, Mar 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-02 23:09:16-05

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- East Grand Rapids decided Monday to take a stand on the issue of discrimination against those with a different sexual orientation or gender identity. The East Grand Rapids city commission voted to adjust their city code to help protect the rights of those people.

“This amendment will ensure there is no discrimination,” said Mayor Amna Seibold.

The decision comes after city leaders said they were disappointed that the state failed to continue the discussion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, age, and even weight, but does not protect anyone in the LGBT community.

A short a meeting was held Monday at the East Grand Rapids city commission. The first item on the agenda was an ordinance amendment to Chapter 10 of Title I of the city code pertaining to nondiscrimination. In the public comments, there was only support voiced in the meeting. There were no votes against adding sexual orientation or gender identity to their city code so those categories are protected, too.

“We live in the United States, and the United States is about equal treatment for all,” said Mayor Seibold. "I don't see it as controversial. I see it as doing the right thing."

According to Mayor Seibold, the state should have already taken the lead on prohibiting discrimination against the LGBT community.

“It makes more sense if it comes from the state, because there is more teeth behind a law coming from the state,” she said. "But since they didn't, we thought it was important to show that we don't want discrimination of any kind."

A failed bill last session in Lansing would have expanded state law to include people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered in classes protected from discrimination in employment and housing.

“I have spoken with other mayors and leaders of different cities and townships, and they were all hoping the state would do this.”

Despite the lack of action on the state level, the decision by East Grand Rapids is a win, said Mira Krishnan, who leads the LGBT community for Grand Rapids and the greater Grand Rapids area.

“I think this is a really important issue, and it's an opportunity for us to show leadership in West Michigan,” said Krishnan.

If the state gets on board, this can benefit Michigan in the long run, Krishnan said. “It’s really a competing issue. This makes Michigan more attractive to talent, and makes it more attractive to families of all kinds who want to live here.”