May 04, 2009

JACKSON CITIZEN PATRIOT -- Human Relations Commission sees chance topass "gay rights" ordinance

A conservative community leader thinks it must keep up with the progressive movement?  Sounds like what got us to where we are as a Nation and as the GOP, lost in the wind.
R. George Dunn
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, May 02, 2009 12:06 PM
Subject: JACKSON CITIZEN PATRIOT -- Human Relations Commission sees chance topass "gay rights" ordinance

Jackson, Michigan
April 23, 2009
Jackson Human Relations Commission sees chance
to get anti-discrimination ordinance approved
by Fredricka Paul | Jackson Citizen Patriot
Members of the Human Relations Commission are prepared to let the public weigh in on an anti-discrimination ordinance if the Jackson City Council fails to support it.

It was brought to the council in 1999, but eventually stalled in 2002. Members of the Human Relations Commission hope the ordinance stands a better chance of being approved with the current council.

"(Past councils) didn't want it on the agenda. Now we have a slightly different council," said Ed Peterson, a member of the commission. "I hope the time is right."

What it says

The ordinance, drafted by the HRC in 1999 and last brought before the council in 2002, would prohibit bias based on age, race, religion, disability, familial status, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, educational association, political affiliation, source of income, height or weight.

Mayor Jerry Ludwig is not so sure.

"I don't think it is a good time to bring it back up," Ludwig said. "It was rather controversial the first time it came up. I just don't think it is worth it. It is not a real big priority right now."

Councilman Carl Breeding is the only council member who has said he will support the ordinance.

Councilmen Daniel Greer, Robert Howe, Andrew Frounfelker and Kenneth Gaiser have said they are undecided.

The ordinance is up for discussion at the HRC meeting in May. From there, it could go before the City Council.

If the council does not approve the ordinance, Peterson said the HRC will seek referendum and would have to collect about 350 signatures on a petition to get the issue on the ballot, possibly in November.

Previous points of contention about the ordinance centered around the sexual orientation protections it provided. It also was criticized by business owners, who were concerned about the potential for lawsuits from job applicants who were not hired. They felt rejected applicants might sue based on any of the protections in the ordinance.

HRC Chairwoman Kathleen Conley said employers are offered recourse through provisions that state an applicant must be able to fulfill the job description.

"We are still allowing someone as an employer the opportunity to say with your situation, this particular job is not a good fit," she said. "We are also giving a person with limitations some recourse."

Although business owners previously had concerns about the cost of discrimination complaints, Conley said the same provisions are included in civil rights ordinances throughout the state.

"What we are looking at now is tried and true," she said, adding that when it was drafted in 1999 the issue was almost uncharted territory.

George Brown, a member of the HRC, said many other communities around the state, including Ann Arbor, Detroit and Flint, have already adopted similar ordinances.

"I kind of felt like we were behind the times a little bit," Brown said. "We all know Jackson is a rather conservative city, but we are still trying to be progressive and move forward so we can at least look like an inclusive city."

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