Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ferndale's Human Rights Ordinance passes: 65% to 35%

A reporter called me Tuesday night asking how I felt about the ordinance's passing--specifically if it changed how I felt about the city. The answer is unequivocally, "No." Ferndale is a great city, filled with citizens and business that didn't need an ordinance to coerce them to treat their neighbors with respect. I'm unsure how anyone can be disappointed with that.

I had hoped Ferndale voters would have told the Wizards of Special Interests to take their ordinance back to Oz. I would have preferred Ferndale voters had not asked what their government can do for them. In the same election where the majority of state voters sided with Dr. King to judge Michigan citizens by the content of their character, Ferndale opted to measure people by the paisley of their sexual orientation.

Though Ferndale may have pinned a new brooch on its city charter, I'm proud ours is a precious stone--forged by our example of mutual respect, than the costume jewelry other cities wear that haven't our reputation.


  1. I was very pleased to see the city of Ferndale got it right this time. After barely failing the last time it was put to the vote, this year it proved how much our city has become more open-minded and supportive of it's diversity.

  2. Admittedly I am "outside looking in" on this issue, as a resident of PR not Ferndale. Wouldn't anonymous' comment "...our city has become more open-minded and supportive of it's diversity." be the the exact reason why Ferndale DOES NOT need this human rights ordinance?

  3. I could not understand the opposition to the HRO and am in fact am glad that it passed. I felt that oppostion to the ordinance was based on erroneous information and unfounded fears.

    After reading the entire document (all 1400+ words) and thinking it over, I felt it could only benefit EVERYONE. I never saw it as a special rights for gays or the transgendered, etc. Nowhere in the document does it allude to that. From my point of view, it boiled down to: Everyone will have to play nice with each other and not play favorites. The straight white males and females of Ferndale are also protected from "reverse discrimination". So are the overweight, the underweight,the too tall or too short, the well to do and the not so well to do, etc...along with every racial, ethnic and religious origin under the sun.

    I like to look at all sides of an issue, before making up my mind. After all, there is such a thing as reverse discrimination (which I have experienced), and I liked the idea of addressing a grievance on the local level. Better to do that, than deal with "Big Brother" at the Federal level (EEOC) or the State level.

  4. Sorry to butt in, but to address brian's comment....

    Actually, no. Even though the residents have obviously gotten it right this time, doesn't necessarily mean there's not discrimination out there. It's just a way to protect everyone. It's not giving SPECIAL rights to anyone....why anyone would oppose this is beyond me. What does anyone have to lose with this passing? NOTHING. Typically, it's the right-wing bible beaters, AFA members, or homophobes who have a problem with it. Luckily for the city of Ferndale, two-thirds of our residents were on board with it. It's about time

  5. "I could not understand the opposition to the HRO and am in fact am glad that it passed. I felt that oppostion to the ordinance was based on erroneous information and unfounded fears."

    That's a pretty nebulous summation of everything written opposing the ordinance. As I've asked other writers to do, I'm curious if you could be more precise. Perhaps try picking any of the objections raised in Money and politics and argue against them. I'm especially interested in where anyone detects fear, since no straw men or slippery slope arguments were asserted.

    The one point that seems most difficult for supporters to grasp is "special rights." Admittedly, it isn't my strongest argument but it's only one of of 12. Even were it dismissed or made moot, there remained 11 other reasons to vote NO. Since the ordinance affected employers and landlords most directly theirs is the perspective the ordinance needs to be evaluated from. For the time being, I'll stand behind what I told Luke from Ferndale:

    To be equal with another person means you're willing to suffer equally with them. When one person has the threat of law protecting them and another doesn't then the two people are not equal. If I were to choose between destroying sea turtle eggs or snapping turtle eggs I'd choose the snapping turtle because the latter isn't on an endangered species list and I wouldn't be risking fines or imprisonment. Do you think that comforts snapping turtles--or their eggs?

    Or my letter to the Free Press (unpublished):

    Too often people forget equal doesn't always mean equal-opportunity. Sometimes the word following equal could be unqualified, misfortune or risk--as in equally-out-of-luck.

    Where will this Maslowish hierarchy of civil rights protections end? Will the order of named classes in statutes and ordinances become important? Will color trump gender because color's listed first in civil rights statutes? Will it be OK to fire a Gay-American before firing an African-American? Will being a Homosexual-African-American woman afford three times the job safety as being a person without any named protections--the young, straight white guy?

    Goddess also said, "I liked the idea of addressing a grievance on the local level."

    But apparently you didn't read the same ordinance I did. Nowhere did the ordinance make provisions to assert claims of discrimination before commission to hear complaints or investigate them, or provide funding for its enforcement or trial expenses. We're not talking about speeding tickets or jay-walking citations here, we're talking allegations of civil rights violations. The state and federal statutes regarding civil rights are decidedly not symbolic. Ferndale voters let Ferndale's small geography influence their legislation, and the result was a provincial ordinance without substance or commitment.

    Early this year Ferndale saw a clear violation of a simpler ordinance regarding the safe and free flow of traffic and issued a citation--which it quickly backed down from when the defendent insisted on a jury trial and threatened an appeal if she lost.

    So while Ferndale voters may have taken their CareBear plattitudes into the booth with them Tuesday, the ordinance's supporters were laughing it up in the Daily Tribune Wednesday, repeating that ordinance was merely symbolic. Symbolism of any sort is not a compelling reason to pass law.

    So what message did they really send? That the text of an ordinance is less important than its sound bites, that Ferndale voters agree saying the right thing is more important than doing the right thing, and that misleading ballot language is preferable to unambiguous language.

    The best thing this ordinance did was demonstrate to the gay community that including transgenders in ordinances is not the kiss of death--or perhaps Ferndale voters weren't aware of the suspicion our gay community holds for its transsexuals?

    Or maybe they don't because the ballot language didn't say it.

    If you cheat on a test, how will you ever know you could have past it without cheating?

  6. happyinferndale asked, "What does anyone have to lose with this passing?"

    $500 for "right-wing bible beaters, AFA members, or homophobes"

  7. Tom,

    Your long-winded explanations on this topic are getting old. I could spend hours refuting each of your 12 weak arguments, but the bottom line is that you're tied to the AFA, and it kills you that sexual orientation has been included in this ordinance. You see any "equality" by the LGBT community as "special" rights. You feel it threatens your "family values", but sorry, that argument doesn't hold water. Bottom with it and get over yourself. I'll be careful not to trip over your sharply-slanted-to-the-right soapbox on the way out.

  8. "I could spend hours refuting each of your 12 weak arguments..."

    I would read every word and maybe learn something. I would especially look forward to it because your abbreviated arguments are unbecoming your open mindedness and tolerance. Weren't those the virtues backers of of the ordinance believe won on Tuesday?

    Instead of epitomizing the ideals of the ordinance you've chosen instead to villify the opposition with ad-hominem attacks and stereotyping.

    That's why I emphasized the superficiality of the ordinance. Apparently the election did prove me wrong--there are still residents in Ferndale that don't respect others that don't share their opinions.

    Trying my best not to be rude or fallacious,


  9. Apparently happyinferndale is not so happy. The vicious tone of his/her comments would seem to indicate that there's a distinct lack of ability to accept that some people disagree. And, Tom has done so without reverting to cliches and name calling.

    It seems to me that too often people who demand respect and tolerance are unwilling to give it in return.