UPDATE: DELTA TOWNSHIP BECOMES #29!

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THANK YOU DELTA TOWNSHIP!

Last night, after nearly six months of hard work, discussion, and township testimony, the Delta Township Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance. We applaud the Delta Township Trustees for their diligence and commitment to crafting an ordinance that was best suited to the Township’s needs.

Once again, the meeting room was packed with both supporters and opponents. By 5:45, it was standing room only and the staff had opened up two overflow rooms with audio. The Board had a full agenda and both Supervisor Ken Fletcher and Clerk Mary Clark made announcements early that anyone who wished to speak on the non-discrimination ordinance would have to fill out a comment card and would be limited to three minutes.

Prior to the discussion of the ordinance, Trustee Dennis Fedewa added a discussion item for the Committee of the Whole. He proposed that the Board discuss a Resolution urging the State legislature to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Trustee Fedewa later pointed out that the State, and not locals, should really be dealing with this issue.

The Township Attorney, Gordon van Wieren, reviewed a few changes that had been made to the current draft of the ordinance. Most of these changes involved altering language to more closely track ELCRA.*

Public comment from both sides was respectful but tense. Ryan Sebolt, a former Delta Township resident implored the Board to take action. “The board has put a lot of work into this ordinance and I have no doubt that you have put every effort into perfecting it… Don’t let the opposition stall progress…All we’re asking is that we have the right to keep our jobs and put a roof over our heads.”

Other supporters spoke of the need for protections based on their own experiences with discrimination in the community. Carl Struble, opened his testimony by saying that he had spent the afternoon on the phone with a fourteen-year-old boy who was bullied relentlessly at school and was kicked out of his home because he is gay.

“Young people are watching what we do, they’re watching what we say. They’re learning from this. If we push discrimination on them because they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, we’re telling them they’re less than normal. God don’t make junk.”

Opponents to the non-discrimination ordinance generally opened with the statement that they were opposed to discrimination in all forms but felt that actually codifying non-discrimination was unnecessary. Some feared that the ordinance would hinder religious expression and expressed that people should just focus on being nice to one another.

Following public comment, Treasurer Pizzo moved that the Township adopt the non-discrimination ordinance. This motion was supported by Clerk Clark and discussion was opened to the Board.

Trustees thanked the many members of the public for contributing to the process and implored them to continue coming to meetings. The amount of work the Board and the Township staff has put into this ordinance cannot be understated. As Trustee Jeff Hicks pointed out, “We have spent more time on this ordinance than on any other ordinance, amendment, or revision than any other issue we have looked at in the past five years.”

Trustee Hicks also addressed the suggestion that this ordinance would create a special interest group, thereby opening a “Pandora’s Box” or creating a “slippery slope,” saying that he wasn’t too worried about it.

“I guess I would say others in public service, they didn’t ascribe to that theory…If everyone had ascribed to that theory no progress ever would have been made. At some point in time, those protected classes weren’t protected classes.” – Trustee Jeff Hicks

Treasurer Howard Pizzo talked about discrimination his family had faced as immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. They were discriminated against, denied jobs, and called names but persevered because they were hard workers. Treasurer Pizzo credited the help his family had from the government. “I certainly do not want to deprive my children or my grandchildren of those same justices, economic and social justice, and I believe this ordinance will protect [these interests].”

Supervisor Ken Fletcher thanked the public and the Board for being far more engaged and involved during the discussion of the ordinance. He agreed with Trustee Fedewa’s statement that the state should deal with this issue. However, he said he also didn’t believe that someone who is LGBT should live in fear that they would be fired from their job simply for being gay, or denied an apartment, nor should a same sex couple have to “face the embarrassment of walking into a restaurant and being thrown out.” He stated that the Board has “a moral obligation to act” and that they have the responsibility as local elected officials to pass the non-discrimination ordinance.

He then asked Clerk Clark to call the vote. The vote was unanimous and as Supervisor Fletcher announced that the motion carried, the room burst into cheers and applause.

Again, we applaud the Delta Township Board of Trustees for their hard work and support of the non-discrimination ordinance. We urge everyone reading this to send a THANK YOU to the Board.

Supervisor Ken Fletcher – kfletcher@deltami.gov

Clerk Mary Clark – mclark@deltami.gov

Treasurer Howard Pizzo – hpizzo@deltami.gov

Trustee Doug Kosinski – dkosinski@deltami.gov

Trustee Jeff Hicks – jhicks@deltami.gov

Trustee Dennis Fedewa – dfedewa@deltami.gov

Trustee Karen Mojica – kmojica@deltami.gov 

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