City to hold hearing on domestic partnerships Oct. 15

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By Kate Kerbrat
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

The East Lansing City Council will hold a public hearing Oct. 15 on whether to recognize domestic partnerships. In 1972, the city became the first in the nation to prohibit the firing of employees for their sexual orientation.

October’s hearing will be at the regular council meeting and members of the public are encouraged to speak on the issue. Mayor Diane Godderris said at the Sept. 17 meeting when the hearing was scheduled that she is confident that the ordinance will be approved.

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“This community has been supportive of anything regarding equality and benefits for everybody, whether it be for students, for the color of people’s skin, sex or orientation,” said Godderris. “We want to send a message that we are welcoming to all people.”

If the domestic partnership ordinance passes, East Lansing will be the third city in the state to recognize them.

City Manager George Lahanas invited all members of the community to attend the Oct. 15 hearing. Godderris said all viewpoints are welcome and that the public can send emails to council@cityofeastlansing.com to voice their opinions.

Other issues set for Oct. 15 include an ordinance to establish the regulation of abandoned property and an addendum for the Contract for Services and Use of School Facilities Agreement.

The mayor stated that if domestic partnership Ordinance 1305 is received favorably at the hearing, it could pass that night. If that happens, it will immediately be implemented into the city code.

Ordinance 1305 states that it will establish “a mechanism for the public expression, sanction and documentation of the commitment reflected by the domestic partnership, whose members cannot legally marry or choose not to marry.”

The ordinance was introduced by Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett, who was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting. Godderris said it was inspired by Ann Arbor’s recognition of domestic partnerships.

“He felt it was the right day to initiate this,” said Godderris. “It’s a beginning step for them to have the same rights to marry and have equal benefits.”

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