Sterling Heights Poised to Lead Region In Employment and Housing Equality
The Sterling Heights City Council is planning to vote on a non-discrimination ordinance at their June 3rd meeting. Sterling Heights, the fourth largest city in the state, would be the first municipality in Macomb County to take such action. Leading this effort is a local coalition, named 1SH (One Sterling Heights), formed to express strong community support for the ordinance.
"Sterling Heights is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. We want to make sure every member of our community feels welcome and treated fairly," says Nate Shannon, Co-Chair of the Coalition. "We think this ordinance sends a strong message that Sterling Heights celebrates diversity as a strength and is working to champion inclusion and acceptance of everyone."
City Councilman Michael Taylor introduced the issue at last night's meeting. Without objection, he asked that the ordinance be added to their June 3rd meeting agenda.
"There is a gap in federal and state law that exposes our residents to discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity," said Councilman Taylor at last night's meeting. "It is our basic duty as elected officials to protect residents and prospective residents, visitors, and employees from discrimination, and ensure our city is safe for everyone."
It is believed that the ordinance will reiterate many of the state's civil rights protections related to gender, race, ethnicity, and religious freedom, amongst others. It will also extend civil rights protections based on sexual orientation and sexual identity. To the surprise of many, it is currently legal for businesses to discriminate based on someone's sexual orientation or identify, as well as be denied housing.
"In the last fifty years, our country has made great strides in judging each other not by our differences but by the content of our character and the gifts we have to share", says 1SH Co-Chair Rev. Michail Curro, a United Church of Christ minister. "This ordinance will help the City of Sterling Heights and Macomb County take another step forward in working towards equality. Intolerance and discrimination have no place in the present and future we envision for Sterling Heights and every community."
Sterling Heights resident and 1SH Co-Chair Julie Bondy added, "I commend the Sterling Heights City Council for taking on this issue and providing leadership. It sends a clear message to the region that bigotry is not acceptable in Sterling Heights. Even more important though, it sends the message to people like me that Sterling Heights is a city me and my partner can feel welcome."
Another important aspect to this issue is economic development. Sterling Heights would join AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Consumers Energy, and other businesses that have called for similar changes.
"We know that Michigan and cities like Sterling Heights will enhance their ability to retain and attract top talent by supporting diversity and inclusiveness. This ordinance is exactly the type of law we need to help improve our image around the country and grow our economy," says Nate Shannon. "This ordinance would add another reason businesses want to locate here."
In addition to the above-mentioned individuals, Lisa Schultz, a Sterling Heights Fire Fighter, is also serving as a 1SH Co-Chair.
For those interested in joining, 1SH will be hosting an organizing meeting tomorrow night at 7 pm at the Warren/Utica Education Association offices located at 13969 Plumbrook Road, Sterling Heights, or you can call Nate Shannon at 586-840-8533 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information