SVSU, Delta professors speak out against sexual discrimination

Employers may legally discriminate against their employees because of the employee’s sexual orientation in the state of Michigan, but Bay County is challenging this law.

Citizens of Bay County gathered at the Bay County building last Tuesday for a public hearing on the proposed ordinance to ban sexual orientation discrimination.

The Valley Vanguard

Courtesy photo | Charin Davenport

Last Tuesday, Charin Davenport, an SVSU and Delta English instructor, spoke in favor of an ordinance that would ban sexual orientation discrimination in Bay County.

The ordinance proposes to ban sexual orientation discrimination within privately owned businesses, as well as in refusal for residence in county-owned housing.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, citizens at the hearing spoke to commissioners about their concerns and shared the struggles they’ve dealt with because this ordinance was not in effect.

SVSU and Delta College English instructor Charles Davenport, in the middle of a transgender change to Charin Davenport, spoke in favor of passing the ordinance.

“I think this is a step in the right direction,” she said.

Davenport said that the end goal should be equality.

She called herself the “point person” for getting the public involved, and contacted others in the area who were in agreement.

Davenport said the hope is that the board will decide to hand the ordinance over to the Personnel/Human Services Committee to make sure the language is appropriate. Once the ordinance gets to that committee, there will be another vote March 11 to decide whether it will be enacted.

One audience member, speaking against the ordinance, said he found that the proposal doesn’t distinguish between the types of protection for same-sex relationships. He said one could interpret the article to mean a contractor who refuses to provide spousal benefits to an employee who is married in another state would be in violation of the ordinance.

He continued to say that all parties, whether for or against the ordinance, could end up with something they don’t want.

Denise Hill of Bay City, an English professor at Delta College, shared that she sees her students demonstrate tolerance and acceptance towards everyone in her classroom daily. Her point was that members of the community should do the same.

“Sort of equal is not good enough,” Hill said.

At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18, there will be a Personnel/Human Services Committee agenda meeting in the Commission Chambers of the Bay County Building.

“This meeting is going to be important because the board could kill this whole thing on Tuesday,” Davenport said. “Then we’d have to go back to the drawing board.”

Davenport said the ordinance proposal is only a draft as it stands. They are working on the draft to make sure the language is right, so they won’t have to go back later and reword it.

If the commissioners pass the proposal and there are no setbacks, the ordinance will officially go into effect on May 1.

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