The Bath Township Board of Trustees met on Feb. 6 to discuss the drafting of a non-discrimination ordinance. This was their second meeting about this topic since December.
The previous board— two of whom are incumbent members—wanted to adopt a non-discrimination ordinance to protect people of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. Cindy Cronk, one of the retained trustees, said that the new board is finishing what the old board started.
The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 does not permit discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, weight, height, sex or marital status. The non-discrimination ordinance would be adding onto what the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 does not include: sexual orientation and gender identity.
“To me personally it’s almost just a statement piece that we are welcoming of everyone,” Cronk said of passing the ordinance. “I think there are about 1,200 townships in Michigan and only seven have this ordinance; They are big townships like Meridian [Township.] It’s usually cities [that have them.] The city of Jackson just adopted one.”
The Board of Trustees took the draft to a sub-committee to be looked over for recommendations. Cronk predicts that it should take them at least two to three months to respond. After that, she said the board will have to hash it over and call their attorneys. She estimated the process to take at least six to eight months.
“We’re looking at a 23-page document that I don’t agree with half of the stuff that’s in there,” Cronk said. “It’s stuff that we should not be governing. Realtors and brokers already have local, state and national governing bodies that regulate civil rights violations. I would vote no if I’m not happy with what’s in there.”
Cronk also said that it would be hard to create the perfect ordinance without seeing and understanding what the few other townships have done. She doesn’t want to copy others, but use it as a guide to make one for Bath Township.
The board discussed the option of forming a committee for this ordinance, which would include two board members and others from the community.
Nathan Triplett of Equality Michigan spoke during the public statement session of Monday’s meeting. He explained the importance of making everyone in Bath Township feel welcomed no matter what sexual orientation or gender they identify with. Triplett talked about the importance of being more progressive with these issues.
“I would absolutely be a part of the committee,” said Bath Township resident Heidi Williams.
“There’s a big confusion right now on that which is why I think local ordinances are so important for our community to step in and say, ‘You know what? Yes. We’re all inclusive, we believe in equality and fairness for everyone and we’re a welcoming community.’ And really, beyond that, I think that’s what this ordinance is going to do,” Williams said.
However, Williams disagrees with getting ideas from other townships on their ordinances.
“My concern is that it would be a cookie cutter approach and I don’t think we want that. I think we want to be sure that Bath Township gets the ordinance that we want, that we need for our community,” Williams said.
“I think having an ordinance like this on file sends a very loud and clear message to not only our township government, but our township residents, township visitors and businesses that are going to do work with in this town.”