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Local officials work to create non-discrimination region for LGBT people

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Three townships in the Lansing region will be considering proposals to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression.

In a coordinated effort, Delhi, Meridian, and Delta township officials could vote on protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from employment, housing, and public accommodation discrimination with the next several weeks.

"It is legal to fire someone from their job just because they are gay or transgendered. It isn’t right. Everyone should be treated fairly and equally by the laws of our township. And it’s time for us to step up and make that happen,” said Angela Wilson, a Meridian Township Trustee, during an announcement in front of the state capitol building.

Lansing and East Lansing already have LGBT non-discrimination laws. If the three surrounding townships also pass similar protections, more a quarter-million people in the Lansing region would live in an area that bans discrimination against LGBT people.

Ken Fletcher is Delta Township Supervisor. He says it’s time to expand the protections the surrounding cities already offer.

“Grand Ledge to our west and Lansing and East Lansing  to our east have already come on board. So, it’s time that Delta and the other communities here with me today join our neighbors today in sending the message that all are welcome in our region and that everyone will be treated with respect and dignity.”

If the proposals pass, 26 municipalities across the state would protect LGBT people from discrimination.

The local officials say they also hope the legislature will soon consider amending the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to make these kinds of protections statewide.

Representative Andy Schor (D-Lansing) and Representative Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) joined the event, saying protecting gay people at the local level will bring more awareness to the issue of discrimination. They expressed hope that the legislature would take up the issue of LGBT protections within the next several months.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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