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Support Mounts for Kalamazoo Nondiscrimination Ordinance

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rsz_voteyes-595x446The Kalamazoo Gazette, Kalamazoo, Michigan’s largest newspaper, encouraged its readers to “stand for equality” and vote “yes” in its official endorsement of the City of Kalamazoo Ordinance No. 1856, a November ballot initiative that would make it illegal for employers, housing authorities as well as public accommodations to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

The paper’s editorial board wrote :

Either we are all equal, or we are not. Is it right, then, that a person in Kalamazoo can be fired or denied employment or housing simply for being gay? Voters in the city have the opportunity on Nov. 3 to remove that inequity and deliver a strong message about the type of community we want to have.

The paper continued saying:

We do not believe this is a morality issue, except to the extent that discrimination and inequality are immoral—and illegal.

Earlier this year, the Kalamazoo City Council passed the anti-discrimination ordinance for the city's LGBT  population , but anti-gay opposition gathered enough signatures to challenge the ordinance.

Narda Beauchamp, a retired school teacher whose daughters are gay, moved out of Kalamazoo fearing they would be discriminated against because of their orientation. 

In an interview with the Michigan Messenger, she said, “After college our two daughters planned to stay in Kalamazoo. They grew up here and started their careers here," she said. "But after a lot of heartfelt conversations with the family, they told my husband and I that they need to move to another state and another city that already provided protections for housing, employment and public accommodations," Beauchamp said, listing the kinds of discrimination Ordinance 1856 would outlaw if passed by voters.

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell also came out in support of the ordinance saying:

The Kalamazoo Promise being here at this moment at this time. We are a different place. We are a welcoming place. We need to be able to understand that everyone deserves a job, everyone deserves a house, everyone deserves accommodations. We need to affirm this on Nov. 3.

The endorsement is the latest boost for proponents of the nondiscrimination ordinance.  The YWCA, NAACP, the League of Women Voters.  A ministerial alliance was also formed among faith leaders supporting the ordinance.

Western Michigan University ‘s school newspaper,  the Western Herald, also encouraged fellow students to support the ordinance  saying:

Kalamazoo’s gay and transgender community deserves the same opportunity to succeed as anyone else. While it is sad that such protection has to be explicitly legislated, it is up to individual municipalities to provide it.

If voters on Nov. 3 uphold the ordinance, Kalamazoo will become the 15th city in Michigan to have nondiscrimination protections.