LGBT community rights hot topic at township board meeting

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By Justin Polk
Meridian Times staff writer

Trying to be like fellow communities, Meridian Township is looking to enhance their employment and public accommodation for the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) community. Andria Ditschman of Hubbard Law presented the ordinance draft.

“This is compiled from our ordinances as well as East Lansing and Delta Townships” Ditschman explained.

There is one ordinance that covers LGBT discrimination. That is the fair housing ordinance.

Many arguments, whether for or against this ordinance, came on the same basis. Every board member acknowledged that they want to out equal rights for everyone in the township. Yet, trustee Milton Scales said that while this was an important issues, the wording in the employment section made it hard to enforce.

“Who would enforce this?” asked Scales. “What kind of appeal process would there be?”

Trustee Angela Wilson and Ditschman, said practices already present in East Lansing that show that it works. Deb LaPine, Human Relations Director for Meridian Township, spoke about her experience on the human resources board in East Lansing.

“In my time at East Lansing (three years),” explained LaPine. “We experienced two issues, neither of which dealt with LGBT discrimination nor employment.”

Trustee John Veenstra seemed to favor the idea because there is no state regulation for LGBT discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations. But, his worry was similar to Scales’.

“Is this an issue where the township is starting to create a solution to something that is not an issue yet.” Said trustee Veenstra

Scales said that some of the wording needs to be changed for him to be satisfied.

Voting on this will be made at the Oct. 15 township meeting located in the township hall at the municipal building.

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