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Young people promise to march “until love is equal” in Holland

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
About 150 people marched through downtown Holland Wednesday demanding equal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

A group of young people marched through Holland Wednesday night to protest a vote city council made in June against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination laws.

These laws would protect people from getting fired or kicked out of their houses because they are gay or transgender. Federal and state laws protect people from discrimination – but not based on a person’s sexuality or gender identity. The debate in Holland has not died with that vote.

About 150 people marched as part of an ongoing effort to demand Holland City Council change its decision. The march was organized to show young people in Holland support the effort.

Holland resident Kimberly Payne-Naik grills hot dogs for about 100 people gathered at a city park before the march. She says she sort of dragged her 18-year old son Max Singer to a city council meeting to hear the debate, but he was quickly drawn in.

“He was so restless in his seat and I could hear him grumbling and being snarky under his breath. And I’m like ‘you got to stop it’ and ‘we’ll talk about it afterwards,” Payne-Naik chuckles, surprised at how much her son took to the issue.

Payne-Naik says Max wanted to do something. He organized a march to show young people in Holland support the gay-lesbian and transgender community. She also said he realized why she kept replacing “no discrimination zone” yard signs that disappeared. Payne-Naik says he family has had “a lot of great discussions” about the issue and how best to handle it.

19-year old Genevieve Perry grew up in Holland and went to high school with Singer. She recalls just a couple of years ago when you couldn’t buy beer on Sundays.

“I think Holland is a very tough community to get anything to change,” Perry said, “The drinking bill took forever for anything to change with that. All of these conservative, more structured ideas are really hard to change.”

The group did not convince city council to change its mind Wednesday night, but many in the audience vowed to keep showing up at meetings until they do.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Enterprise Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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