The Kalamazoo City Commission has
unanimously passed a gay protections bill for the second time, the
Kalamazoo Gazette reported.
The new city ordinance, which passed
Monday, makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation
and gender identity (transgender protections) in the areas of
housing, public accommodations and employment in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Last December, city leaders approved a
similar measure but were forced to rescind the protections a month
later after a local chapter of the American Family Association (AFA)
submitted sufficient signatures to suspend the law until
commissioners vote to repeal it or voters decide its future.
Hundreds showed up for new subcommittee
hearings on the issue in March, where the debate turned heated. And
while the ordinance exempts churches and renters of a residence where
they live, opponents roundly denounced it as an attempt to
discriminate against religious groups.
Speaking in March, Mary Balkema, of the
Kalamazoo Citizens Voting No to Special Rights Discrimination, said
the measure would “victimize” religious groups.
“No religious person should be
indicted for living out his protected religious convictions,” she
“I think the amendment itself is
discriminatory. I think it violates constitutionally guaranteed
rights – freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. I
think it violates the privacy rights and safety of women and
children,” Balkema added.
Opponents have said they cannot abide
by the measure and have already vowed to repeal the ordinance. AFA
of Michigan President Gary Glenn said he will begin a petition drive
Fifteen Michigan municipalities
currently ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.