Last night, the Delhi Township Board voted unanimously to proceed with a non-discrimination ordinance. Unlike previous meetings, there were a lot of people in the room to deliver public comment on the issue of non-discrimination protections.
During public comment, Holt Baptist Church Pastor Fred Froman read a brief collective statement from a coalition of pastors from within Delhi Township. This group believes that the non-discrimination ordinance is unnecessary and will be used for intrusive investigations and unnecessary litigation. A church elder and former Delhi Township Trustee, Paul Krepps, also spoke in opposition to the ordinance.
Mike Hamilton, a Delhi Township resident who regularly attends Board meetings, spoke in favor of the non-discrimination ordinance stating, “In a perfect world [this ordinance] wouldn’t be needed — but we don’t live in a perfect world.”
Kara Hope, another Delhi Township resident and an Ingham County Commissioner spoke in favor of the ordinance and clarified that the ordinance prohibited only discriminatory acts, not beliefs or thoughts. This clarification was reiterated by the Township Attorney.
It is worth noting that, similar to other non-discrimination ordinances, the Delhi Charter Township ordinance includes an exemption for religious organizations.
“Sec. 20-12. Exceptions.
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Chapter, the following practices shall not be violations of this Chapter.
For a religious organization or institution to restrict any of its facilities of housing or accommodations which are operated as a direct part of religious activities to persons of the denomination involved or to restrict employment opportunities for officers, religious instructors and clergy to persons of that denomination.”
An example of this exception in action: A church is hiring a nursery director to supervise the younger children during Sunday services. The church may require that applicants believe in God. Similarly, it means that a pastor may refuse a couple seeking to get married in the church if they do not follow the tenets of that faith.
There were several more people who spoke both in favor of and in opposition to the ordinance prior to the Board’s discussion. Following public comment, Supervisor C.J. Davis spoke passionately about why he supports the non-discrimination ordinance and why it’s needed in Delhi Township.
“We are for equality and justice for all…I do not believe we have equal protection under the law. There are some people here who have never felt the sting of discrimination under the law — until you do, you may not fully understand the need for this ordinance…I assure you, there are people within our community who have experienced discrimination and this legislation will offer them much needed recourse.”
Trustees Hayhoe and Harmon also spoke in favor of the ordinance before the vote. Every single Board member voted in support of the ordinance.
The Board will meet again on Tuesday, October 1. There will be a public hearing on the non-discrimination ordinance. Although the Board is firmly in support of this legislation, it is clear that there are groups who are opposed to this ordinance and will stop at nothing to ensure that it is not passed.
Please take the time to thank the Delhi Township Board of Trustees for their action last night and urge them to continue their support of this ordinance! CLICK HERE TO SAY THANK YOU!
The proposed ordinance in its entirety: 091713 Delhi Township Proposed Ordinance