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Portage Passes LGBT Civil Rights Ordinance

Sehvilla Mann

The Portage City Council has made it illegal within the city to withhold housing, a job or everyday services like health care because of someone’s sexual orientation or the way they present their gender. Six council members voted for the ordinance and one against at a meeting Tuesday evening.

Ginger Clifton was one of many people who urged the council to adopt the ordinance. Clifton has a 13-year-old who’s transgender.

“When our daughter came out, our immediate concerns were regarding her safety and the discrimination she would face in her life. We did not even realize that we would need to advocate for civil rights in our own community, 52 years after the Civil Rights Act,” she says.

The ordinance’s opponents objected on a number of grounds. Kalamazoo County Commissioner Scott McGraw called the law a solution in search of a problem "that does not exist." Some said it would better to put the issue to a popular vote.

Council member Nasim Ansari, who cast the only vote against the ordinance says he objects to naming protected classes in the law.

“This is a nondiscrimination ordinance. So I suggest strongly that this ordinance should only state ‘thou shalt not discriminate,’ period,” he says.

The law takes effect 15 days after it is published.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. She covered those topics and more in eight years of reporting for the Station, before becoming news director in 2022.
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