Voters in Kalamazoo, Michigan on
Tuesday decided to keep a controversial gay protections law approved
by city leaders in June, ABC affiliate WZZM reported.
With 89% of precincts reporting at
10PM, the effort to repeal the law trailed 61% to 38%.
City leaders approved the measure that
makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and
gender identity (transgender protections) in the areas of employment,
housing and public accommodations twice before opponents forced them
to put the measure up for a vote.
The group Kalamazoo Citizens Voting No
to Special Rights, backed by the anti-gay Christian-group American
Family Association (AFA), vociferously opposed the legislation,
calling it an attempt to discriminate against religious groups,
despite the law's exemption for churches.
Officials put the measure up for a vote
after the group submitted 2,088 signatures against the ordinance –
60% more than the 1,273 valid voter signatures needed to qualify for
the ballot box.
Jon Hoadley stepped down as executive
director of pro-gay group Stonewall Democrats to head One Kalamazoo
in August. The newly formed group headed the effort to retain the
In taking the position, Hoadley
explained why national leaders were getting involved in a local gay
“The local community asked me to
participate in helping them pass a local ordinance that will help
make LGBT lives better,” Hoadley told Bilerico's
Bil Browning. “The AFA is going to send in big guns and spend
a lot of money sending out misinformation about our community and our
lives. These people aren't local either.”
Hoadley said social conservative groups
are using small towns like Kalamazoo to “find new ways to scare
voters at a local level and move those lessons forward nationally.”
Voters in the college town of Gainesville, Florida rejected an
effort to repeal a similar city ordinance in March.