Traverse City voters back protections for sexual orientation and gender identity
Voters in Traverse City voted Tuesday to approve a non-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories.
Voters approved the measure by nearly a two-to-one margin, voting 2,818 to 1,661, reports the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
The vote caps a nearly year long, often contentious battle by social conservatives convinced they were stopping the gay agenda. The anti-ordinance movement was spearheaded by Jason Gilman, a tea party leader and county commissioner, and Paul Nepote. Nepote ran a Facebook page about the battle.
On Tuesday night he posted a response to the vote:
I would like to thank everyone who labored to educate the public to the dangers of homosexuality, and the radical homosexual movement. When we began this program we had two objectives, and we accomplished both as planned.
• First of all they were not going to get this unenforceable ordinance for free; we set out to make them spend as much as possible. We knew if we forced them to spend their money, whatever they spent on this would be funds they could not spend on other endeavors to promote homosexuality.
• Second was to send a message to the rest of the country, and the world, that Traverse City will no longer welcome homosexual radicals and activist in our town. Any attempt to promote homosexual behavior in our city will be met with a pushback that will expose those who think we would tolerate any flamboyant activity.
• And lastly, if any local business is attack using this ordinance we have raised enough support to help provide the best legal counsel possible at no cost to the business owner.
We didn’t need to win this battle to win the fight. This is just the beginning, and with the allies we have acquired we will continue to confront those who are trying to promote homosexuality as a normal life choice, and to prevent them from contacting our children and grandchildren with lies which promote their perverted sexuality.
Meanwhile, activists from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally community were celebrate the win.
“We applaud Traverse City voters for choosing to treat residents fairly and equally. Voter turnout was the highest we’ve seen in Traverse City municipal elections in years — which affirms that Michigan residents are more than willing to support pro-equality policy,” said Denise Brogan-Kator, executive director of Equality Michigan. “All hardworking people in our state, including gay and transgender people, should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.”
“This is a wonderful victory. Traverse City voters have defended fairness and taken a strong stand for all families. We would not be celebrating this victory if it were not for Traverse City residents’ commitment to civil rights, our amazing campaign staff, our volunteers, our community and allies, and the support of organizations like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,” said Diana Ketola, steering committee member for Traverse City Equality, the campaign group supporting the ordinance. “The Task Force spent time with us on the ground to train our campaign team and contributed financially to help us ensure this victory.”
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, also hailed the victory at the polls.
“The people of Traverse City have sent a clear message that they value their LGBT friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members and don’t want to see them left vulnerable to discrimination,” Carey said. “This victory creates a stronger and more welcoming city not only for LGBT people and their families, but for everyone. We were proud to have partnered with Traverse City Equality in the nation’s only LGBT-specific ballot measure campaign this election. This is a victory for Traverse City and for our common humanity.”