Saline City Council was set to vote on a non-discrimination ordinance Monday night. The motion was pulled from the agenda at the outset of the meeting.
Council is considering the ordinance because the state’s Civil Rights Act does not explicitly protect gays, lesbians and transsexuals. The ordinance would prohibit discriminating against gays, lesbians and transsexuals in housing, employment, city contracts and other areas. Violators would be investigated by the City of Saline manager and could be subject to fines and other penalties.
Councillors Linda TerHaar, Dean Girbach and Christen Mitchell serve on a work group that brought the ordinance to city council.
TerHaar said the ordinance went to the city’s code review task force.
“Last week, the task force reviewed the last version. Some questions were raised. The ordinance will be taken back and discussed further with (City Attorney) Scott Smith,” TerHaar said. “It’s a very dense document and it’s a lot to digest in a relatively short period of time.”
She said members of the task force wanted clarifications about definitions and other aspects of the ordinance.
Councillor Dean Girbach said he expects there will be some change changes to the language.
After the meeting, Girbach elaborated, saying the changes are at the behest of others who’ve reviewed the ordinance.
“An intent to define most situations is leading to confusion and misunderstanding. Some unfamiliar terms are not necessarily used in practice or anywhere else, such as ‘binary anatomical gender’ Comments from other non-task reviewers believe the way the (ordinance) is currently written may allow discrimination against transgender individuals,” Girbach said.
At the meeting Councillor Janet Dillon asked if the ordinance has received public comment. TerHaar said the public has commented on the meeting. She said the document was reviewed by the Fair Housing Commission and Equality Michigan. Both organizations provided comment.
At council meetings, public response to the ordinance has been overwhelmingly positive. A large group of supporters attended a council work meeting to show support for the initiative.
TerHaar said she believes the code review task force is full and positive engaged in the process, and that it simply wants more time to review the language.