An advisory board voted unanimously to recommend city council pass the measure Thursday night.
The board has been studying the issue for months. They took it up at the request of Reverend Bill Freeman. The Holland pastor says those who spoke against expanding protections to those groups embody why it's needed. "I mean to be homosexual, or to be a lesbian or gay person in Holland - it would seem to be problematic. Because there are so many people who oppose them - oppose their existence," Freeman said.
The crowd of more than 80 people was evenly divided. Most of those opposing the change worry it would discriminate against them by forcing them to ignore their moral values against homosexuality. Unlike a person's skin color, Holland resident Joe Stafford says being gay is a chosen behavior. "If an ordinance is passed, we will automatically discriminate against good upright members of the community whose only wrong is they have a conviction that is based on history, nature and religion that homosexuality is wrong," Stafford said.
Holland City Council does not have to follow the recommendation. It's unclear when the council will make their decision.
Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Detroit are among several other Michigan cities that have passed similar ordinances.