(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Voters in Kalamazoo, Mich., have passed Ordinance 1856, which bans discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in housing, employment and public accommodations. The ordinance won by a margin of 62 to 38.
Said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Ria Carey, “This marks an important victory for Kalamazoo, where voters have affirmed that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are part of the fundamental social fabric of the city, which now joins nearly 20 other cities in Michigan that have enacted nondiscrimination ordinances. In affirming fairness, voters also rejected a reprehensible right-wing campaign grounded in lies and fear-mongering.
“Congratulations to One Kalamazoo and all the volunteers who ran a strong and successful campaign. One Kalamazoo’s leadership has led to a victory that creates a stronger and more welcoming city for everyone. We thank all those who stood for fairness today.”
Jon Hoadley, Campaign Manager for One Kalamazoo, was equally pleased.
"With a resounding 'yes,' today Kalamazoo stood for fairness and equality,” said Hoadley. “Now Kalamazoo residents will not have to live in fear of being fired from their jobs, denied housing, or discriminated against in public accommodations, simply for being who they are.”
“I applaud the people of Kalamazoo for embracing equality for all,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Sexual orientation and gender identity have no place in employment decisions, access to housing, or public accommodations. Each of us is entitled to security in our daily lives regardless of who we love, of who we are. Thank you One Kalamazoo for your outstanding efforts and rousing success.”
In June 2009, the Kalamazoo City Commission adopted amendments to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance in the areas of employment, public accommodations, and housing that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes. Opponents of the ordinance were successful in placing the ordinance on the ballot. By voting yes on Ordinance 1856, Kalamazoo residents were able to ensure that everyone has a remedy if they experience discrimination.
Twelve states plus Washington, D.C. have laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity: California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Another 21 states prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.