On June 15, 2011 the City Council of Holland (MI) voted 5-4 against an ordinance to eliminate sexual orientation and gender identity from consideration in hiring or housing. This simply would have removed these criteria from the list of things Holland business owners and landlords could use to deny employment or housing, regardless whether the applicant were straight, gay, lesbian, etc. The 5-4 vote June 15 preserved the right of landlords and employers to discriminate.
Throughout four months and hundreds of community members presenting reasons why they thought Holland and West Michigan would benefit from this ordinance, one apparent deficit emerged. Some of the five "no" votes (The Honorable Kurt Dykstra, Brian Burch, Todd Whiteman, Nancy DeBoer and Mike Tretheway) said they didn't have sufficient evidence of pre-existing discrimination in Holland. Without such proof, some Councillors said, they could not and would not vote in favor of the ordinance.
(A year prior, in 2010, Holland City Council asked its Human Relations Commission to study and recommend such an ordinance, which they did unanimously - this is the ordinance Holland City Coucnil voted against 5-4 on June 15, 2011.)
The summer and early fall have included much testimony in front of City Council, at Holland City Hall, during regular meetings. At Until Love Is Equal, we considered the following possibility: maybe some of the presented evidence (of discrimination) got lost in the blur of so many meetings, so many speakers.
At the Oct. 6, 2011 meeting, several Councillors suggested our 'strategy' of speaking before Council every week… wasn't going to work. They suggested we try something else. So we went through nearly 30 hours of footage from June to October 2011, and found the following apparent evidence of actual discrimination that has occurred, or is suspected to occur.
We hope this helps with a more informed decision, and possible a new, 9-0 vote in favor of eliminating these two factors from application discrimination: sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination in itself is not a bad thing, but if one discriminates based on criteria that are unfair, then it's a bad thing. The Holland Human Relations Commission voted unanimously to recommend that one's sexual orientation ought not be considered a legitimate reason to discriminate. We at Until Love Is Equal, along with every single major national and international corporation in existence, agree with this recommendation by HRC.
"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it." -Martin Luther King, Jr.