Human rights ordinance to be introduced at Saginaw council meeti - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Human rights ordinance moves forward in Saginaw, to be discussed again April 21

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(04/07/14) - A controversial topic has returned to Mid-Michigan.

Monday evening, Saginaw City Council voted in favor of moving forward a human rights ordinance that would protect members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. That means a vote could take place as soon as April 21.

Monday night, members of the LGBT community shared their thoughts about this proposed ordinance.

It's different from the one recently voted down in Bay County. That one targeted workplace practices and procedures in county government.

City Council member Annie Boensch says the Saginaw ordinance would guarantee city residents and visitors equal treatment in employment and public accommodations.

The proposal, if passed, would mean business owners could not discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation. It would also prohibit employers from discriminating when making hiring, firing or promotion decisions.

Those practices are already prohibited at City Hall.

Boensch says a number of members of the gay community have left Saginaw because of the way they were treated.

"The idea that we have hardworking taxpayers who contribute back to the city and serve as good citizens in the city and to know that they could be fired in this economy, that's just not the kind of thing we need in Saginaw. We need people to know that they're safe here, that they're welcome here and that the law protects them and looks out for them," she said.

Steve West and his partner Jim Atwood co-own a Saginaw restaurant. They've been a couple for nearly 16 years, and they hope council members will be on their side at Monday's meeting.

"I know that when I was younger, in the 80s, there's certain places of business that would actually fire people for being homosexuals and I still don't do business with them even now," West said. "I think fair is fair and I think everybody should be treated the same, being gay or transgender, it doesn't affect your work abilities."

Debbie Easlick doesn't support of any type of discrimination against gays and lesbians, but thinks passing an ordinance like this could cause some issues down the road.

"It's going to cause problems because there are a lot of people that make it their business and feel very strongly that it's wrong," she said.

We want to hear from you. What do you think about this topic? If you would like to join in on this discussion, leave a comment on the ABC12 Facebook page.

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