Wednesday, June 18, 2014

7 - 0 victory in Sterling Heights!

It happened around midnight in the City Council chambers in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The Council voted unanimously, 7 - 0, to pass an ordinance that will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. The ordinance will "apply to all persons seeking employment or housing in the city, but specifically would extend civil rights protection based upon sexual orientation and identity."

I am ecstatic.

7 - 0.

I had the honor of speaking with Mayor Pro Tem Mike Taylor before the vote. With allies like him and others on the Council who spoke about equality and prejudice, I feel even more hopeful about the future for those of us who do not fit into the heterosexual norm than I did before.

Said Mayor Pro Tem Taylor in a prior vote that brought us to last night, "“For those of you concerned that your ability to practice religion is being taken away, that is not the case. We can argue and debate many things, but this is not one of them,” he said. “The First Amendment is your shield and it protects you and your ability to practice religion, but it is not a sword to be used to strike down your fellow citizens because they do not agree with you.”

I agree.

I most likely won't get to speak with all of those on the Sterling Heights City Council who voted last night so will pass this message along:

Thank you. Thank you for being a voice for the voiceless. Thank you for shining light onto bigotry in any form. Thank you for doing the right thing and acknowledging all of your citizens and those who want to be part of the greatness that is Sterling Heights. As one of your citizens said "Discrimination is real and it happens every day. It is subtle, it is rarely overt, and it is laws like this that are necessary to protect LGBT people…Freedom is for all of us not just some of us who fit into a preconceived norm. Sometimes freedom for all makes us uncomfortable, that is the challenge of freedom."

I have a huge smile on my face and even more hope in my heart. Sterling Heights is where I came of age. I lived there during elementary school and junior high school, the years that I began to realize that I was different. It is a very special place for me.

Based on the vote last night, the City Council also thinks so.

Thank you for reading.

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