Jackson marks one year anniversary of LGBT non-discrimination ordinance

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — The city of Jackson is marking the one year anniversary of the passage of its LGBT non-discrimination ordinance.

The passage of the NDO started months of controversy in Jackson.

But one year later a lot of the discourse is dying down.

It was a historic moment for Jackson on Feb. 8, 2017, as the non-discrimination ordinance passed the city council 5 to 2.

The ordinance makes it a civil infraction to discriminate in housing, employment, or public accommodation when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The ordinance allows the city’s Human Relations Commission to investigate discrimination complaints.

If the commission finds the complaint to be valid, the city attorney takes action and can fine an individual or business for violating the ordinance.

Weeks after the law passed, a group of residents that were backed by several local churches submitted petitions to block the NDO from becoming law.

However, a judge later struck down the petitions.

He ruled that the petitions were invalid, mainly because they weren’t submitted properly.

The city clerk was later fired for his mishandling of the petitions and sending discriminatory emails from his city email account.

The ordinance has yet to be challenged again.

“Things have settled down quite a bit and it seems to be working great,” said City Public Information Officer Will Forgrave.

Forgrave says over the past year the city has received only two complaints of discrimination.

One was thrown out because it was made by a person who simply disagreed with the ordinance.

Forgrave says the other appeared to be a legitimate complaint.

“Somebody who claimed they were fired or let go from their job for their sexual orientation. That was also dismissed because they didn’t file within the 30 day window,” Forgrave said.

Forgrave says its important to file a complaint with the city within 30 days of when the alleged incident occurred.

Although the city hasn’t had to enforce the law, Forgrave says the past year shows the system is working properly.

“We think it’s important to have an inclusive city. This gives the LGBTQ community a recourse that they don’t have in other areas of the state or the country. And that’s why we passed it and we think it’s important,” Forgrave said.

The Jackson City Council is getting a full report on the NDO’s first year at their meeting on Feb. 27.