Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan – November 21, 2006
Lansing ordinance prompts protest
Gender identity, orientation clause focus of debate
By Alex Altman
Lansing — During the Transgender Day of Remembrance, some MSU conservatives protested the “sexual orientation” and “gender identification or expression” sections of an anti-discrimination ordinance put forth by the Lansing City Council on Monday night. Lansing city officials discussed the ordinance, which would prohibit the harassment of and discrimination against an individual based on 20 protected criteria including race, religion, ancestry, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Ten years ago, Lansing city officials tried to pass a similar anti-discrimination ordinance but were unsuccessful.
Several Lansing residents gave their opinions of the ordinance during the hearing. Despite protesting from MSU’s Young Americans for Freedom, almost everyone who spoke expressed support for the ordinance and commended the council for tackling diversity issues. Psychology junior Michelle Nickerson said she supported the ordinance because it allows everyone to be protected under the law. “It’s a really good proposal they’re putting in front of the community,” Nickerson said. “It’s important to be inclusive of all cultures and to allow them protection under the law.”
MSU Young Americans for Freedom, or YAF, joined students from Olivet College’s newly formed YAF chapter to protest the bill.
Kyle Bristow, MSU’s YAF chairman, said the ordinance wouldn’t be fair because it discriminates against people who don’t practice homosexual behavior. “The proposal gives special rights to some people but aren’t given to all people,” Bristow said. “All people should be treated equally under the law.”
After picketing outside, the students gathered on the 10th floor of Lansing’s City Hall for the hearing, where about 200 people were in attendance. Bristow said if the bill is passed, it will allow transsexuals to use any bathrooms and teachers to cross-dress, even in elementary schools. “We find it despicable,” Bristow said. “The whole part where (transsexuals) are identified as a special group and deserve special privileges is just wrong. We’re against the notion that deviants deserve extra rights.” Several members of the council expressed their approval of the ordinance, including Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, who said he gave the measure “unequivocal support.”
In the weeks leading up to the hearing, the American Family Association, or AFA, sent out e-mails urging people to attend the hearing and testify against the proposal, said Gary Glenn, Michigan’s AFA president. “These exact same types of ordinances have proven to be discriminatory in their enforcement,” Glenn said. “They have been routinely discriminatory against individuals and organizations who don’t promote homosexual behavior or have a homosexual activist political agenda.” Glenn cited several examples of what he calls discrimination across the country, one of them being in Boston, where Catholic Charities of Boston was forced to either process adoptions by gay couples in violation of Vatican policy or abandon its century-old adoption services altogether. The agency chose the latter. “In each of these instances, the so-called sexual orientation law was cited as the justification for this type of discrimination,” Glenn said. “It threatens to discriminate against and violate the religious free speech rights of individuals and organizations who believe homosexual behavior is wrong.”
You can read the State News article here.