The Rapidian

Until Love Is Equal: Where Are You?

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Until Love Is Equal has released its second PSA video in an effort to plead with Holland city leaders to accept the unanimous recommendation of its own Human Relations Commission to protect minorities
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Until Love Is Equal

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Stop Sitting - Start Standing

Until Love Is Equal is a grassroots effort based in West Michigan, dedicated to gaining protections - regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity - for the workers and residents in Holland, MI. This is about basic liberties and core civil rights for a vulnerable community of people. 

This is a regional issue that affects a people whose minority status of LGBT Americans has no bearing on their abilities or their humanity. When minorities are left vulnerable to discrimination, it's moral and right to protect them. As Martin Niemöller so eloquently explained in the 1940’s,

“First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

It is time to speak out. The members of Until Love is Equal are ready to do just that. The majority of the membership of Until Love Is Equal (in the thousands) identifies as heterosexual, yet here we are. This is a moment when we must stand and be counted. It is the right thing to do.

It is time for you to speak out, as well. The Until Love Is Equal website provides numerous excellent resource for you to jump, in big or small. Do a little, do a lot. But do something. Please do it now. While the economy might threaten our livelihood at any given moment, no one should have to live in fear of being fired from their job or getting evicted from their home based solely on prejudice. No matter how our religious or other convictions lead us to feel about an issue, everyone should agree that law-abiding Americans deserve the basic protections outlined in the spirit of our founding principles. The issue in Holland is not about advocating for or against same-sex unions. This is just about basic rights, privacy rights, and core protections against discrimination.

Speak up, no matter where you live. Holland has received communications supporting the ordinance ranging from its own residents to the citizens of the Netherlands and everywhere in between. Every state and national civil rights initiative in the past has succeeded because united people took a stand, from all areas, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, races and genders. 

This is the time to stand up. We cannot remain seated any longer. This one is too close to home, and our West Michigan protects its own.

What is happening

The City of Holland (MI) recently rejected the unanimous recommendation of its own Human Relations Commission (HRC) who crafted an anti-discrimination ordinance designed to protect against housing and employment discrimination of the city's LGBT residents and workers. The HRC researched this issue for nearly a year at the request of Holland City Council.

Until Love Is Equal is a collaboration of West Michigan residents imploring Holland City Council to protect a vulnerable minority that is regularly subject to vitriolic attacks during open meetings and on public record. We respectfully plead with Holland's city leaders to adopt these standard protections based on the irrefutable truth that it's morally right - and vital for the economic recovery of the region. Holland's major employers (including Johnson Controls, Inc., Herman-Miller, Haworth and numerous businesses) have endorsed the goals of Until Love Is Equal.

The vast majority of national and international corporations - some of whom we hope would consider West Michigan when expanding or relocating - have and require sexual orientation policies that protect and respect same-sex partners. Until Love Is Equal believes it is counter-intuitive economic policy to pull out the welcome mat for potential new businesses, new residents and new workers alike. 

Without the protections that Holland's own HRC recommended unanimously, workers in Holland can be denied employment or fired outright, simply for being lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT). Residents can be evicted from their homes or be denied housing for their inclusion -or even presumed inclusion- in this minority.

West Michigan: Uniquely Connected

The cities of West Michigan are uniquely connected: many residents of Holland drive daily to Grand Rapids to earn their living. The stretch of I-196 that connects these two cities is a very short commute. One Holland City Council member in particular (who voted against the anti-discrimination ordinance) works as a prominent arts spokesperson in Grand Rapids. The small and medium metro areas that comprise this amazing region are brilliant dots that connect to form the most resourceful region in Michigan. We all need each other.

Grand Rapids itself adopted an anti-discrimination ordinance in 1994, the same year as San Francisco, CA. Many outstanding leaders in Grand Rapids, including former Mayor John Logie, helped make Grand Rapids the 10th city in the nation to take this forward-thinking initiative.

It could be argued that many of the great things happening in Grand Rapids today, in arts and culture especially, owe to the fact this city protects its own - all minorities deserve and require basic protections against discrimination.

Arts and culture sectors have a demonstrably beneficial impact on the overall economy, with GR leading the region with their innovative approach to dealing with an otherwise crippling recession.

Holland City Council: Request, Receive, Reject

In 2010, Holland City Council requested a recommendation on an ordinance to protect LGBT minorities that live and work in this beautiful city. After nearly a year of due diligence, the City’s commission tasked with researching and recommending... concluded with a unanimous recommendation that LGBT minorities’s housing and jobs should be protected along with other minorities. It seemed at the time fair and reasonable to assume the city's elected lawmakers would agree with their own Human Relations Commission - a group of people appointed by Mayor Kurt Dykstra, himself (who voted against his commission's recommendation.)

It was disappointing - shocking, even - when Holland City Council short-circuited this process of enacting forward-thinking protections for a vulnerable minority. Some City Council members said they wanted the issue to become a ballot initiative. Others have argued against this, saying lawmakers are elected to make decisions that protect the residents and workers they serve. The history of the Civil Rights Era in the United States has shown us that the majority should not be left to vote on the rights of a minority. 

Learn more

Until Love Is Equal, an equal rights movement based in West Michigan, proudly debuts its second PSA video "Where Are You?" here on The Rapidian. Until Love Is Equal released its first PSA "Dark Into Light" in early August, as part of a comprehensive, rapid-response effort to gain basic anti-discrimination protections for a vulnerable minority in Holland, MI. 

Learn more at www.untilloveisequal.com.

 

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