Union Township approves revision to human rights ordinance
Union Township is following suit of the City of Mount Pleasant regarding human rights.
Union Township approved a proposed draft for the Charter Township of Union Human Rights Ordinance with a vote of 6-1 on Sept. 26.
The ordinance will prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations and will provide penalties for violations.
The revised draft remains fairly consistent, with most changes found in section 170.02 Definitions. The changes to the definitions were made in order to remain consistent with Michigan civil rights statuses.
Township Supervisor John Barker said the county’s ordinances, for the majority of the issues, will correspond closely with those set by the state in order to prevent confusion or differing interpretations when enforcing the ordinance.
“We’ll go with what the state says,” Barker said.
The two major changes proposed were the addition of height and weight and the removal of gender from the ordinance.
Barker said the addition of height and weight classes will be protected under Section 170.01 of the Ordinance, as they are under state law.
The other aspect modified is the gender class. Barker said it will be deleted and placed within the sex ordinance, because the term sex is a description of certain types of discrimination based on being male or female.
“The terms ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ are interchangeable,” he said.
When Mount Pleasant approved its human rights ordinance, the decision was met with resounding applause.
As previously reported by Central Michigan Life in July, under Mount Pleasant’s ordinance, traits including race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sex, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, family status, sexual orientation and gender identity are covered to prevent discrimination in the employment, housing and public accommodation of individuals.
Gaining the most attention were sexual orientation and gender identity, which are not covered under state or national anti-discrimination laws.
The ordinance was subject to considerable deliberation, rewritten over a number of lengthy meetings since its initial proposal by a citizen group backed by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Michigan last November.
“I want to thank everyone who came forward to speak,” Mount Pleasant city commissioner Sharon Tilmann said during a summer meeting. “It made our meetings very, very long, but I think it exemplifies democracy at its best.”
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