ROYAL OAK (WWJ/AP) – A metro Detroit community’s human rights ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and a number of other factors has been placed on hold as opponents seek to put the issue before voters.

Royal Oak’s City Commission passed the ordinance earlier this month, about 12 years after voters defeated a similar measure. It covers housing, employment and public accommodations, and Mayor Jim Ellison called it “the right time and the right place” for the measure.

The ordinance was to take effect Thursday, but opponents turned in enough signatures to block it for at least the next few weeks. They want voters to decide the issue, and have until April 3 to collect 746 signatures to have the City Commission set an election date.

“It will allow men and boys who think they are women and girls to use women’s restrooms and showers and play on girls’ sports teams,” resident Fred Birchard, 75, who is leading opposition to the ordinance, told The Daily Tribune. “That’s religious discrimination, association discrimination and a wicked policy.”

Birchard said the ordinance “is even worse” than the 2001 proposal he worked to defeat.

City Commissioner Jim Rasor, an attorney, said Birchard is trying to scare residents into overturning the ordinance.

“What he is saying is untrue. It won’t happen,” Rasor said. “That’s a scary talking point commonly used by a small group of people who want to continue to hate and discriminate.”

Supporters of the ordinance held a rally Thursday at the post office to launch a “Decline to Sign” campaign, the Detroit Free Press and reported.

The ordinance would make it illegal in Royal Oak to discriminate based on 16 factors, including age, height, weight, condition of pregnancy, gender identity and HIV status. Violations of the ordinance would be a civil infraction punishable by a fine up to $500.

A number of other Michigan communities have similar protections, including Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Birmingham and Ferndale.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments (2)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

More From CBS Detroit

Best Cooking Classes In DetroitLearn how to whip up some wonderful dishes while having fun!
5 Bucket List Items To Cross Off In DetroitThe “must-do” items for anyone making a trip to Detroit.

Watch & Listen LIVE