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Royal Oak moves to join other Michigan cities protecting gay rights

Royal Oak City Commissioners unanimously approved a measure to start drafting a human rights ordinance Monday.

Such an ordinance would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and other characteristics not covered under state or federal law. A number of Michigan cities have similar laws on the books.

Royal Oak voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed human rights ordinance in 2001.

But City Commissioner Jim Rasor is convinced public opinion on gay rights has shifted drastically since then.

Rasor pushed to get the measure on the commission’s agenda. He said it’s crucial for the “Royal Oak of 2012” to project a welcoming image.

“This is not a community where we hate and discriminate,” Rasor said. This is a community where we include. This is a community where we love our neighbors, and this is a community where we send a message out saying we enjoy our diversity.”

Rasor suggested similar ordinances in other cities have brought positive benefits to the community.

Passing aresolution of support only jumpstarts the process, though. The city attorney will develop the ordinance, which then goes back to Royal Oak officials for approval.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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