As most of you already know, the Meridian Township Board of Trustees recently split over whether to adopt an ordinance which would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Reasons cited included concerns about authority, cost, and necessity. Trustee Milton Scales went so far as to call it “feel good legislation.”
In the past two weeks, the response from the community has been incredible. People who live and work in Meridian Township were shocked that some members of the Board no longer supported a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance. Over 200 people sent emails to the Board. Countless residents reached out to the Trustees they knew. The Lansing Branch of the ACLU of Michigan and the Lansing Association for Human Rights both drafted open letters to the Board expressing their support for a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance.
On Tuesday, October 1st at 6:00 p.m. the Meridian Township Board will be addressing the issue of non-discrimination in two ways, according to the Agenda:
- Under Action Item 11C, the Board will be considering a Resolution to Support an Amendment to the Elliott-Larson Civil Rights Act. This resolution is a good start and does, in fact, send a clear message to the state legislature that Meridian Township supports the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity protections to ELCRA. It will NOT, however, prohibit discrimination in Meridian Township.
- Under Discussion Item 12B, the Board will be considering the Proposed Human Relations Ordinance. This is the ordinance that we have been posting about, calling about, emailing about, etc.
Etiquette, Info, and Answers to FAQs:
- When does the meeting start? What time should I get there?
The meeting begins promptly at 6:00 p.m., please try to arrive a little early to ensure that you get a seat. If everyone who has RSVP’ed attends the meeting, it will be a very well attended meeting.
- Where should I go when I get there?
Look for the One Capital Region volunteers who will be standing outside of the chamber. We’ll be wearing blue and will have a sign. Please be sure to sign in with us and get some info! Once you get into the meeting room, please sign in on the sheet provided.
- I want to address the Board. Do I need to fill anything out?
YES. If you want to deliver comment, you MUST fill out a public comment card. If you want to address the Resolution, you want to address ITEM 11C. If you want to speak to the ordinance, you want to address ITEM 12B.
- How much time will I have to address the Board?
You will have THREE minutes to deliver comment to the Board. Please note that the Board is very strict about this limitation and will cut you off. Please heed the time restriction.
- Do I have to write down what I want to say to the Board?
We highly recommend writing out what you plan to say BEFORE the meeting. It will give you some guidance on what to say once you’re up there and you can time yourself beforehand to ensure that you are within the three minute time limit. If you want to deliver testimony, write out what you plan to say and email it to email@example.com We’ll make sure to print off testimony to deliver to the Board so that they will be SURE to read your thoughts even if they run out of time or you have to leave early.
- What should I do while the Board is busy discussing other items on the agenda?
NOTE: The Board has a very full agenda, including budget discussions. Sometimes the discussions that are unrelated to the ordinance may seem a little dry. Do not speak during the meeting unless you are delivering public comment. You may want to bring a book.
- What if I can’t make it to the meeting but I want to get in touch with the Board to express my support?
Email the Board at firstname.lastname@example.org and express your support for a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance.
- What should I say?
The best thing you can do is connect your support for the ordinance to your own story. Tell the Board if you live, work, or play in Meridian Township. How would this ordinance affect you personally?
- Anything else I should be aware of?
Please, WEAR BLUE to show your support for this ordinance! We want to be a VERY visible presence for the Board. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com