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Royal Oak voters to decide human rights ordinance

Royal Oak voters will decide whether to approve the city’s human rights ordinance in November.

That ordinance extends civil rights protections to some people not covered by state or federal law—including gays and lesbians.

A citizen group had gathered enough signatures to either force the commission to rescind the ordinance, or put it on the ballot.

Royal Oak resident David Sims says voters should have the final say on the law, which he calls “ridiculous.”

“It’s a social program that’s being forced down on, in my opinion, the taxpayers and the citizens of Royal Oak,” Sims said after the City Commission meeting Wednesday.  “It’s not necessary. We don’t discriminate against people here.”

Royal Oak voters overwhelmingly defeated a similar measure in 2001.

Some Commissioners said they were uncomfortable with putting a civil rights issue up for a popular vote. But they acknowledged the charter left them no choice.

The ordinance’s supporters were disappointed, but also confident that most Royal Oak voters now support legal protections for gays and lesbians.

“They are intelligent people, and I’m confident that they’ll do the right thing,” says Royal Oak resident Sharlan Douglas. “And if this is going to be on the ballot in November, I say…bring it.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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