The controversial ordinance that would add protections to the human rights ordinance for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is expected to be on the city council agenda Monday night.
The ordinance change was first introduced by former councilman Jeremy Moss and former mayor Brenda Lawrence at a council meeting in December 2013, according to Moss, and it was subsequently discussed several times and referred to the legislative committee of the council.
But in a surprise move, Acting Council President Sylvia Jordan, brought the subject up at a Committee of the Whole council meeting earlier this month without the matter having been on the agenda.
The move was a shift for Jordan who previously had opposed the ordinance, telling the South Oakland Eccentric at one point that it was “not needed” in the city.
Recently, however, Jordan said, “I introduced the ordinance Monday night...I represent all the people.” She added that she had asked what is called a “Rule 10,” meaning a request for a vote on an issue due to its urgent nature.
The vote was delayed due to a request by City Attorney Sue Ward to finalize sanctions for violations, according to Jordan.
Councilman Ken Siver, who accused Jordan of “reinventing history,” said that Jordan wanted the ordinance to take immediate affect, but the “council would not go for that.”
Jordan reportedly had previously participated in a demonstration by pastors in Detroit who opposed permitting gays to marry. But Jordan’s critics say that there may have been a politican reason why she may have switched her position after it was challenged by public speakers at the Dec. 15 council meeting.
While she said she hasn’t made a decision, Jordan, whose term on council expires this year. is generally believed to be seriously weighing a run for mayor. For her part, Jordan says she has not decided, and she added that she hasn’t decided whether to seek another term on council if she decides not to run for mayor.
Siver also has said that he will resign his council seat in May when he files to run for mayor.
With Moss now off the council, the eventual vote on the rights ordinance is in question. While Siver backs it, Councilwoman Joan Seymour has said that she wants to see the state act before the city does.
Violations of the ordinance would be civil infractions, according to Siver, who says that the ordinance is “more symbolic than anything.”
Moss says that he just wants the ordinance debated “on its merits. I see this as important. I’m OK that there is politics.” But he maintains it is good public policy for the city.
“I absolutely welcome Councilwoman Jordan’s support on this issue,” he said.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, which issued a report last week, more local municipalities in Michigan have included civil rights protections for the gay community than in any other state in the country.
Michigan’s Legislature, however, has failed to pass such an ordinance.