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Posted on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

Ann Arbor opposing GOP-backed legislation that would void city's non-discrimination policy

By Ryan J. Stanton

For the second time in recent weeks, Ann Arbor officials are sending a message to the state Legislature that they oppose legislation they consider discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The City Council voted 10-0 Monday night in favor of a resolution protecting Ann Arbor's non-discrimination ordinance and opposing House Bill 5039.

HB 5039 would void the city's ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and student status.


Ann Arbor City Council Member Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"The effect of House Bill 5039 will be to legalize discrimination against students and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents in Ann Arbor," reads the resolution sponsored by Council Members Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward, and Christopher Taylor, D-3rd Ward.

Council members are urging the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder to defeat the legislation. They say the diversity of the community makes Ann Arbor a great place to live, and respect for diversity is vital for economic development and talent retention.

HB 5039, sponsored by state Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, seeks to make null and void any policies or ordinances adopted by local governments or state agencies that include as a protected class any classification not included in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

The Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act does not currently prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or student status.

Ann Arbor's current Human Relations Ordinance prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and student status, in addition to the categories included in the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

City officials argue the Michigan Constitution guarantees cities the power to adopt resolutions and ordinances relating to its municipal concerns.

"The state has no legitimate interest in restricting the ability of local units of government to adopt anti-discrimination ordinances that reflect the values and unique circumstances of our communities," reads the resolution passed by council Monday night.

"It saddens me that this is the second time in a couple of months that I need to bring something forward that sends a message to Lansing that they continue to want to treat the Constitution as if it's something that they can bend at will," Smith said.

"We've had a long history of a very strong non-discrimination ordinance in Ann Arbor," she said. "This particular legislation is threatening to roll that back."

Smith also sponsored a resolution in September when the council went on record opposing a GOP-led effort to outlaw domestic partner benefits for public employees in Michigan.

Both pieces of legislation are pending the Legislature.

Council Member Margie Teall, who was present for part of Monday's meeting, was not in attendance when the vote was taken on the resolution.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 8:45 p.m.

All of this wrangling between the Republicans and the Democrats is silly and tiring. Both parties are the same...only wear different clothes. Become Independant and figure out what you believe and why. Don't just believe what "your" party is telling you. It's all rhetoric and most likely said for personal gain. Sheesh!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

I have no opinion on anything. I wish would tell me what to think.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

Apparently that would be the best option.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

Smith also sponsored a resolution in September when the council went on record opposing a GOP-led effort to outlaw domestic partner benefits for public employees in Michigan. I agree. When I graduated college I had a job but my buddy did not. So I could have cover him as a "domestic partner"? What a waste of money.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 8:47 p.m.

As an employee of the U of M you could have. But you would have had to have claimed part of the health benefit on your taxes.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

'You have to tolerate my intolerance!' has become such a cliched cry of the right wing.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

What does Colorado think?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

Democrats motto- "All pigs are created equal, except some pigs are more equal than others" Animal Farm quote from decade ago. Will it ever end?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 8:41 p.m.

Animal Farm was published in 1945. You may have read it a decade ago, but it's been out there for a long time.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

With Ann Arbor in the $$$ crapper due to it's fiscal mismanagement I think it's missing a viable income source " Ann Arbor Whine " ....


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

There is no shortage of left wing whine in Ann Arbor.

Nature lover

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

Pure Michigan. Pure hatred. Michigan is to the gay rights movement that Mississippi was to the civil rights movement.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

I agree with lord helmet. If you cover gays why not cover everyone. Why cant you marry you brother sister cousin whatever. If your not going to discriminate dont discriminate at all.

Michigan Man

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

Ouimet and Synder getting it done for the fine citizens of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

Nonsense. Why should gays have special legal rights? As long as you keep what you do in the bedroom, I couldn't care less. At the same time, why should businesses be subjected to legal harassment because some gay slacker was let go and then filed suit via some greedy and predatory lawyer? Does the creation of all these "special" categories hurt or help business growth in Michigan? That's the issue here. And hate? I've never seen more hate than that emanating from intolerant "liberals" who INSIST that everyone follow their views on everything. Just turn on those freaks on MsNBC every night if you want to see true "hate speech".

Frank Dillard

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:36 a.m.

"Students" are a protected class? How 'bout "Toads", "Twits" & Nerds?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

Exactly. Liberals create "selective" protected classes. Why not pass laws to prevent "discrimination" in hiring people with full body and face tattoos? Or purple spiked hair or piercings on every possible location?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:52 a.m.

Evil is what evil does.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:25 a.m.

All of the Republcan's radical, far right-wing social engineering must be to cover up the fact that they have absolutely miserably failed at their primary goal of fixing the economy and creating jobs. Instead they are creating an environment conducive of hate, poverty, with a lack of education funding, loss of safety net programs, and total disregard of the State's constitution.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:07 a.m.

Rob, the government doesn't create jobs. It creates an environment where jobs can be created. That's what you liberals never understand. And your liberal democrats who ran this state into the ground for 8 years (Granholm) or Obama who's been in for 3 years have made the situation worse because YOU don't get it.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:17 a.m.

I think its time for a new vote on the issue. I have to admit a few things: 1) I am a registered Republican. 2) I voted for the marriage defense the last time 3) I recognize know that I was wrong to believe that gay people are somehow less entitled to the benefits of marriage or other protections that other people enjoy. I don't think I am alone in this. I have come to understand that there is no wrongness in being gay - nor is there any choice. Telling people who they have to be is simply not a good idea and very unappealing as a policy in America. Religion has no place in politics, so of your religion tells you its wrong, you are free to believe it, but keep it to yourself. Religion being involved in this is little different than the Mullahs we scoff at in Iran telling Iranian's how to live and think. Most importantly, someone's sexuality is none of my business and frankly, it's none of yours either. People deserve to be treated as people entitled to respect. Their jobs should get set benefits, their partners are no one's business. My party was overrun several times, first by the religious right (The Christian version of the Taliban) and then by the Tea Party (not sure what to say about some of them). Each had a few good ideas, but took everything too far and to too many extremes and devolved into hate politics. Both need to go. The GOP has some fierce introspection due and a serious trip to the woodshed for several folks. Before you Dems get too happy, honest folks among you will recognize you need to make the same house cleaning and switch cutting yourselves.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 2 a.m.

Look at your potential presidential candidates. If you eject the religious right, they'd all be gone - because the religious right rules your party. Your candidates pander to the far right and only to the far right, and you support it in whole by supporting the GOP. Even your representatives that are caught in gay prostitution stings still support homophobic positions.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

Sorry that you think so Peter, but its simply not true. We have many openly gay GOP members and like many of the rest of us, they are trying hard to eject the religious right from the party.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

If you support the GOP, you support legislated and institutionalized homophobia. It's a major part of the platform, and trying to rationalize it as your party being overrun isn't going to change that.

Mike D.

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

Interesting perspective. I've often wondered how many conservatives will wake up and say that their party of big military spending and invasiveness into people's lives isn't so conservative anymore. Likewise, my liberal brethren are getting sick of our representation that is so wrapped up in the political game that it can't make the dramatic changes we need to prosper over the long haul. The big question is whether this will change before America as we know it disappears.

Jaime Magiera

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:03 a.m.

Bravo to city council. This is one of the reasons Ann Arbor is still one of the most humane cities in the U.S.. The people who claim that the GOP is about "everyone is equal" are misguided. Take for example the "Matt's Safe School Law" legislation recently passed by the Michigan Senate. Clauses were inserted to allow bullying for religious and moral reasons (i.e. fundamental christian beliefs). That's not treating everyone as equal. That is legalized bias which puts Michigan citizens at risk because of the religious beliefs of a few. Thank you City Council. Hopefully this will send a message to the Governor and senate that we will continue to provide a safe and healthy environment for the varied people of this world.

Jaime Magiera

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

Sorry, I meant "The fact that you've attacked LGBT and tattooed people"

Jaime Magiera

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

lordhelmet, your comparison doesn't make sense. In the case of this legislation, the city council is hoping to maintain an enumeration of qualities which cannot be used to deny basic rights. Being a neonazi is a political belief. Someone can be a neonazi in thought, but still be entitled to the rights enumerated in our Constitution and local laws. It's only when they do something criminal, or promote criminal activity, that government gets involved. In other words, we don't discriminate against neonazis until their actions have a direct negative effect on others. Clearly, people who are LGBT do not have a direct negative effect on others (perhaps in the minds of those who are emotionally crippled, but that's a different story). In terms of your attack on transgendered people, they are not "freaks". Your language denotes bigotry. What someone choses to do to their own body is none of your business, as again, it does not have a direct effect on others. The fact that you've attacked LGBT and transgendered in this public forum is the exact reason legislation like the above is enacted -- so that hate and bigotry cannot be used as an excuse to deny rights to people whose private actions have no direct effect on others.

Laura J

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:59 a.m.

If the GOP thinks everyone is created equal, then why do they not allow 2 women or men to marry each other? I am a responsible adult and should not have the "Big Government" telling me what I can and cannot do... You say that we (the gays) are "inferior" and cannot fight for ourselves. That is the most ignorant thing I have ever read. We are fighting... Fighting people with the mindset like you. We need to fight because we cannot unite our families and enjoy the same rights as a married man and woman.


Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 5:45 a.m.

"Most of us aren't comfortable with the thought of two gays raising children." ^^ That's what bigotry looks like.

Mike D.

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

I love it when conservatives argue against anti-discrimination laws or equal benefits with the notion that they'd prefer living in a world where there was no discrimination and nobody had spousal rights. We don't live in that world, and until we do, we need laws that protect us from blatant discrimination and inequality.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 10:59 a.m.

So Laura, if you're an adult woman who wants to marry your adult daughter (or son), why should the "Big Government" tell you what you can or can't do? Our society sets the rules, Laura. And if our society thinks that marriage is between a man and a woman who are not closely related, society CAN set those rules through our representatives. Most of us aren't comfortable with the thought of two gays raising children. It sounds like a prescription for disaster.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

I don't think the GOP really cares all that much who you marry (congress doesn't represent the majority of us). The tax benefit should be changed to those who are parents and this whole thing would go away.

David Briegel

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:49 a.m.

And the right fights for the "equal treatment" for the billionaires who can't be taxed! Joke? Even at the rates of Ronnie the Hero or Clinton. Just today I had to listen to the right wingers lament how we can only raise taxes in "time of war" while the next sentence was how we can't cut defense "in a time of war". Incredulous. They and you just want it both ways. Can't cut defense and can't raise taxes. Just Wow!! Just go shopping. And watch as Veterans benefits get cut. But I'll bet you got your yellow ribbon!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:32 a.m.

The GOP feels everyone is equal, regardless of race, sex, or age, thus no one needs special rights. The left seems to think some groups are inferior and incapable of fighting for themselves, thus are special and need their (the lefts) protection. Evidently AA thinks some groups need extra help because they can't fight for themselves.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

@Rork: "word salad" - love the description.

Mike D.

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

So my ability to secure health care for my life partner of ten years is a "special" right? But if he happened to be a woman and we could get married, his health care would be less special? Help me out here; I am a little lost.

Rork Kuick

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

That's doesn't make any sense. Its just word-salad. We ask that people are treated fairly. We single out certain classes, such as ones based on skin color, because we think we see actual discrimination or persecution. That is us fighting. With no such protections, discriminating is legal, right? What mechanism would there be to prohibit discrimination? Just saying "everyone is equal" will do nothing whatsoever. Some of the other writers here at least admit that their motivation is that they want to permit certain discrimination - they don't like gay people mostly. I suppose a second tactic is to mystify the issue by making equal rights "special rights".

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:28 a.m.

Who says Lansing is not filled with backwater hicks?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:16 a.m.

I'm waiting to see the resolution from the Phoenix City Council, before I make up my mind on this one.

David Briegel

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1 a.m.

Michigan, the Mississippi of the North.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

Here you go joe.blow. Glad I could help. <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;source=hp&amp;biw=1102&amp;bih=703&amp;q=tea+party+racist+signs&amp;gbv=2&amp;oq=tea+party+racist+signs&amp;aq=f&amp;aqi=g2&amp;aql=&amp;gs_sm=e&amp;gs_upl=385l3363l0l3443l22l18l0l5l5l1l195l1550l5.7l12l0</a>

David Briegel

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:51 a.m.

We can do. Just not with your current leadership! I'm going nowhere. You guys are the ones who hate A2!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:35 a.m.

4 years of Tea Party slamming by the media, not one racist sign found. 1 month of Occupy and reams of video and gigs of pictures or available of members openly slamming Jews. Yup, the left is pure and the right is racist.

David Briegel

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2 a.m.

I was referring to the anti-education platform, the lack of tolerance for LGBT's, the attempt to roll back voting rights and a host of regressive policies and ideas prevelent in your chosen party. But if there is any shame it is the &quot;party of Lincoln&quot; that has made welcome in their &quot;big tent&quot; every racist and bigot since Ronnie the first went to Miss and S. Carolina to let them them all know they were welcome. Lincoln would not be welcome in your party. And the last lynching was just a few miles soulth of Mich in Indiana. I have nothing of which to be ashamed.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:57 a.m.

&quot;Council Member Margie Teall.................was not in attendance when vote was taken on the resolution.&quot; We need to have council members that actually show up and represent their constituents. The Fourth Ward has had two examples of the &quot;Invisible Woman&quot; on City Council.

Mike D.

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

Margie would have voted with the rest of the group. My impression is that, Heaven forbid, council members have lives of their own and don't make it to every meeting. I am not aware of any vote where Margie was absent and would have swung things the other way. We all pick our battles--and our meetings.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

Whats good for Democrats is bad for America! Another example!


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

Who was it who said a recall vote on $nyder would fail? It looks like he's supporting his own un-election, judging from his consistently anti-humanitarian, anti-middle class, anti-Michigan efforts. At some point (it's to be hoped) all the cumulative damage done by Republicans in this state and nationally will have an effect on voters.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:27 a.m.

Snyder inherited a huge mess from the failed Jenny Granholm and he's been doing a FINE job turning this state around. The entitlement mentality and union domination of our state is what is responsible for the job losses, Tru2blu76. People like you created this mess. It's going to take people like Snyder to turn it around. Your name calling is absurd. The key to prosperity is bringing business to this state and they're not going to come here if they're subjected to endless legal hassles (like bogus discrimination lawsuits), high taxes, and union extortion. We also need to make Michigan a Right to Work state and break the backs of the unions; particularly in the public sector and in education. Union GREED has destroyed our job base, not the republicans. That has to be reversed.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

And the Democrats are humanitarian, pro-middle class, and pro-Michigan? Their actions do not indicate that. Your party has wrought great damage in this state and any intelligent being knows that. The two parties are a plague.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:23 a.m.

Funny how Republicans always rail against 'big government' and 'government interference' then they do precisely what they complain about when they're in power. Do as we say, not as we do... They want to come into our bedrooms, homes, etc. and have the state decide on what is 'immoral', etc. Not, 'the state' but 'their state' which is white, rich and according to their ordained religion. So much for local government and the power of people do run their own lives - they want to dictate how local government should operate, universities, etc. operate. So how about those jobs you promised for $1.8 billion (no strings attached)?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

A slippery slope fallacy is by definition not a logical conclusion.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:09 a.m.

Do you think that we shouldn't have laws, Townie? What right does the &quot;state&quot; have to impose morality such as making things like theft, rape, and murder illegal. We should ALL decide for ourselves what is right and wrong? That's what your position, taken to its logical conclusion, would result in Townie.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 11:35 p.m.

City council seems to have lots of &quot;resolve&quot; in subjecting everybody to their personal issues. There should be a state initiative to prevent cities from making their own traffic laws too?


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

Mike D. It is about saving money, you just don't want to see it. It's not the government's responsibility to grant non-married couples spousal benefits. Where would it about brothers, sisters, parents......why should non married individuals in a special class get benefits paid for by taxpayers when blood relatives can't? How do you prove these folks aren't &quot;gaming&quot; the system with no &quot;legal&quot; marriage on the books?

Mike D.

Thu, Nov 24, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

snapshot If this were motivated by saving money, the government would take away all partner benefits--including those for married couples--and save orders of magnitude more money. When only same-sex partners are singled out, it's about something other than money. Saying that there are people in the country (world?) poorer than me doesn't make discrimination OK.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

49 million people are living in poverty and the government keeps taking from them, so is it wrong for you to expect taxpayers to pay for your healthcare when they have none themselves? Why should you be any different in the take away? I say you play the hand you're dealt. Other folks don't even get the chance to protest the changes as government workers do. Others don't have elected officials attending to their financial needs as government employees do. Maybe you should count the blessings you have.

Mike D.

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

You think the government trying to take away my family's health care and rights is a &quot;personal issue?&quot;

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

&quot;The GOP: Trying to keep Michigan a 'jerkwater' state since 1854.&quot;


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:29 a.m.

Yeah Ron. Jenny did a real &quot;bang up&quot; job for 8 years, didn't she? She &quot;blew us away&quot;, right? And Detroit? 100% democrat. Same with Flint, Saginaw, and the other crime ridden cesspools in this state. You're free to move to a state that is dominated by democrats if you'd like. I suggest California. Have a nice trip.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:20 a.m.

Apparently the legendary efforts and successes of successive Democratic regimes to ruin the flagship city of Michigan somehow don't merit your scorn?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:32 a.m.

Wrong. Both parties have contributing to us becoming a &quot;jerk water&quot; state. Liberalism and conservatism are cancers that need to be removed from the American body politic.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:51 p.m.

Next thing you know, they'll be bringing back literacy tests to see if you are competent enough to vote. Lets give people another reason not to move to Michigan, why don't we. I don't see this as creating jobs or encouraging young people to take an interest in staying in Michigan instead of fleeing to a more productive state that cares about it's citizens.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

Do you actually think that's a good idea? Are you aware of the historical events regarding such test that Bear was referring to?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:10 a.m.

Literacy tests sound like a good idea. That would certainly eliminate most democrats from office.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:21 p.m.

Nobody cares what the City Council thinks, this is the same City Council that lays off fire and police so they can have art.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 11:13 a.m.

And the same nitwits who made Ann Arbor a &quot;nuclear free zone&quot; as if anyone at the Pentagon gives a rat's behind.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:51 a.m.

Bear, A2 has like 25% less cops er capita then most big university's. A2 used to be a proactive police town and now only a reactive police town. This hinders the criminal notion to not do crime in A2, and then it becomes a real nice target. I believe however that the UofM should pickup the slack, and have a bigger police department, and their own fire department. They can work hand and hand with theA2 FD. But yeah, they could have held the money for the art and relocate it to the safety DP's.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:45 p.m.

your statement is false. There is no such thing as &quot;laying off fire &amp; police so they can have art.&quot; Repeating false statements and lies does not make them any more true. Fact: police &amp; fire budget is totally separate from any part of the budget relating to art. Another fact: The percentage of city budget utilized for public art was %1 and is now being considered for a %50 reduction on next year's budget. If you're going to honk your horn, make sure you have something to honk about. I don't believe city council to be without fault. None of us are. But I do care what city council thinks and they reflect the majority of this community, which is why they get re-elected. I also care about the slander &amp; lies that you are spreading like manure on this board. But then again, maybe you just want this legislation to pass so that you might be able to show your prejudices without fear of running afoul of laws instituted against bigotry by this same city council. So, a simple question, how many cops is enough? How many firemen are enough? When does that number exceed what is needed? Or are you just pulling this statement out of thin air, as I suspect?


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

McMillin and the GOP, champions in leading our State backwards in the eyes of the world.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:45 p.m.

Ha, the eyes of the world are not watching Ann Arbor, despite what some its citizens would love to believe.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:29 a.m.

Who cares what the world thinks? It is a seriously flawed place that has no business judging us. And what is backwards depends on one's point of view. One could say that you and the Ann Arbor City Council are &quot;backward&quot;. That said, the Republicans are being hypocritical. They complain of big government pushing people around but they are doing that exact thing with this legislation. How perfectly asinine!