TRAVERSE CITY (AP) Voters in Traverse City and Kalamazoo refused yesterday to prohibit municipal policies protecting gays from discrimination, while a pro-gay ordinance won overwhelming approval in Huntington Woods.
With all precincts reporting in Traverse City, 2,944 voters or 58 percent opposed amending the city charter to bar measures that would grant gays, lesbians or bisexuals “protected” status.
There were 2,152 votes or 42 percent in favor.
A similar city charter amendment in Kalamazoo failed, 6,085 votes or 54 percent to 5,211 or 46 percent.
In Huntington Woods, 1,982 voters or 69 percent voted to affirm an ordinance approved by the city commission banning anti-gay discrimination, while 896 or 31 percent voted against it.
Similar measures were defeated in neighboring Royal Oak and Ferndale in the past two years. Ypsilanti is the only city in Michigan where a pro-gay-rights policy has been upheld at the ballot box.
Activists say the battle could be waged in as many as a dozen cities across the state in the next year.
Opponents of gay-rights legislation say existing civil rights laws grant homosexuals and bisexuals all the protections they need. Outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation would mean giving gays “special rights,” said Fred Weber, leader of the group that campaigned for the charter amendment in Traverse City.
The other side said without anti-discrimination measures, nothing can stop an employer from firing a worker or a landlord from refusing to rent to someone solely because of sexual orientation.
“The truth is that gay people in our country are not guaranteed the most basic rights,” said Mari Cooper, head of the campaign to retain the Huntington Woods ordinance.