Updated: Monday, 29 Jun 2009, 11:40 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 29 Jun 2009, 10:08 PM EDT
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - The Kalamazoo City Commission voted unanimously to adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance Monday night.
It will prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people when it comes to hiring, housing and other accommodations. The ordinance goes into effect in July.
"I am excited," said Terry Kyseke, of the Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality. "Here is an opportunity to make a statement that we are creating a Kalamazoo for every citizen that's equal and fair."
This was the second proposal of its kind. The commission approved a gay rights law Dec. 1, then repealed it Jan. 12 after the American Family Association submitted petitions to force a public vote.
Changes were made to try and accommodate both sides, mainly making exemptions for religious organizations.
Most of the ordinance's opposition comes from the organization's Michigan chapter, which argues mostly on the basis of religious views.
The city manager will be in charge of enforcement. Businesses and housing organizations would face stiff fines if found to have discriminated against the gay community.
However, opposition groups will have a chance to petition again. With 1,300 signatures, the ordinance would have to go before the commission for a third time. From there, the commission could rescind it, or put it before the Kalamazoo community for a vote in the next election.
"This ordinance, I feel, is an infringement on the rights of everyone in Kalamazoo and everyone visiting and working in Kalamazoo," said Jan Stowe, who opposes the ordinance. "This is not a civil right we're talking about. There is no proven gay gene. This just came out by the American Psychological Association."
American Family Association of Michigan President Gary Glenn told the Kalamazoo Gazette petitions to put the gay rights law to a referendum will be on the streets Tuesday.
People from both sides of the issue say they would welcome a vote on the issue on the November ballot.
"I value the Kalamazoo voter," Kyseke said. "Their knowledge, their education and their willingness to say, 'we are a community that does what is correct.' "