Bay County commissioners voted Tuesday to move forward with an ordinance that, if adopted, could be the first of its kind in Michigan. Commissioners are considering an ordinance that would extend non-discrimination rights to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Joanna Hill is transgender. Before their vote Tuesday night, she and others asked Bay County Commissioners to support an ordinance that would make it illegal for county employers to discriminate against workers because of their sexual preference or gender expression.
"It says to people it's wrong to discriminate because someone has a difference than you do," commented Hill.
Commissioner Donald Tilley is sponsoring the ordinance. He said he hopes it will be adopted in Bay County and beyond.
"Twenty-nine states in this country have laws that allow you to fire people because they're gay, and that's wrong," said Tilley.
But not everyone agrees. The ordinance would only apply to employers who do business with Bay County. Commissioner Michael Lutz is one of two commissioners who voted against it.
"It doesn't affect my business. It's symbolic. It's not going to do a darn thing," said Lutz.
Still, Joanna Hill says it would be a step in the right direction.
"We would love to see the day when ordinances like this aren't necessary. But that's not the case right now," said Hill.
Next in the process, county residents get to weigh in on the ordinance. A public hearing is expected to be held Feb. 11.
Copyright 2014 WNEM (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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