TC Equality
  | An Investigative Report


Vote YesLetters | Send Letter

"It's not our differences that divide us, it is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences." Audre Lorde

Donna Hornberger League of Women Voters | Grand Traverse Insider
The League of Women Voters Grand Traverse Area supports a YES vote to keep the Nondiscrimination Ordinance which the Traverse City Commission unanimously passed in October 2010. On November 8, Traverse City will decide whether to continue to allow people to hold jobs and live in homes without fear of being fired or evicted because of their sexual orientation. It is hard to believe anyone could oppose the exercise of these fundamental rights, isn’t it? The ordinance gives equal, not special, rights to all who live in or visit Traverse City. The Nondiscrimination Ordinance has been in effect for a year without any unintended consequences. There is no reason to repeal it. The Ordinance delivers a strong message about who we are. It shows that Traverse City is open, welcoming, and business-friendly. In other cities with similar ordinances, business has flourished. Their ordinances have had the effect of attracting businesses and citizens. In Michigan alone, almost 20 cities, including Ann Arbor, Detroit, East Lansing, Ferndale, Grand Rapids, Huntington Woods, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Ypsilanti, have nondiscrimination ordinances similar to the Traverse City ordinance. The issue before us on November 8 is simply whether to keep an ordinance that extends the right to housing, jobs, and public accommodations to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, including heterosexuals, gays, and lesbians. There are those who will tell you that it is more than that. It is not. The Ordinance has nothing to do with what churches do (they are excluded from compliance), with what a person renting a room in his or her home does (they are also excluded from compliance), or with what private clubs do (also excluded). The ordinance provides victims of discrimination by employers, landlords, or businesses serving the public with a legal way to right these wrongs. Nationally, the League of Women Voters has a strong commitment to supporting equal rights for all persons regardless of their race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation or disability. The Nondiscrimination Ordinance which you are asked to vote YES for on November 8 does this. It treats all people including heterosexuals, gays, lesbians, and transgender people equally. The League of Women Voters Grand Traverse Area supports the Nondiscrimination Ordinance. We urge everyone to vote YES to keep it. Donna Hornberger is the President of the League of Women Voters-Grand Traverse Area.

‘Special rights’ claim, are code words for trying to justify discrimination
Seventeen years ago, we chose to make Traverse City our home. Today, our town’s welcoming nature is threatened by a possible repeal of our non-discrimination policy. We have raised our three daughters to believe all people should be treated with respect. We taught them that diversity is something to value and that people with different beliefs and experiences enrich our lives. Hopefully they understand that when a particular group is accused of wanting “special rights,” this is code for trying to justify discrimination against that group. Vote “yes” on Proposal 1. Let’s keep Traverse City welcoming to all our citizens. Roger Gerstle and Marjie Rich Traverse City

Central United Methodist Church
We support the spirit of the city non-discrimination ordinance on the upcoming November ballot. While we value differences of opinion, the message of the scriptures and the traditions of our faith call us to proclaim that all people are God’s children and deserve the protection of their human and civil rights. We are called to support those who face discrimination and to advocate for initiatives that prohibit it. We do this as a part of our Christian witness in the hope of establishing a more loving and just community for all. The Rev. Dale Ostema Traverse City The Rev. Chris Lane Traverse City The writers are writing on behalf of members of the Central United Methodist Church Administrative Council.

Episcopal Church Leadership: Discrimination is Not Right
“Do Justice, Dismantle Violence, Strive to be Peace Makers.” This is the mission of members of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. In keeping with this mission, the EPF chapter at Grace Episcopal Church in Traverse City urges voters to vote “yes” on the anti-discrimination ordinance on Nov. 8. Justice begins by recognizing the dignity of every person. Discrimination for any reason does not support this value, and is unacceptable. Please vote yes. John Lewis, Chair Traverse City The writer is chair of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship at Grace Episcopal Church.

Vote yes for equality
On Nov. 8, Traverse City will demonstrate its character. We’ll decide what we want to be. As you’re walking to the voting booth, imagine part of your identity is on the ballot. Imagine your community has the power to legalize discrimination against you. Imagine you’re gay in Traverse City. Imagine how that feels. The question remains: What do we want to be? Do we want to be a place where people feel supported and cared for? Shouldn’t we? I hope we will. We can Nov. 8. Vote “yes” for compassion. Vote yes for equality. Vote yes to uphold the nondiscrimination ordinance. Taylor Nash Traverse City

Conflicts with values
It is the pinnacle of hypocrisy for a businessman to be a major financial contributor of the campaign to defeat the nondiscrimination ordinance while expecting supporters and those who would benefit from its provisions to patronize his establishment. We have decided, in light of Ray Dornbusch’s $3,000 contribution against the ordinance, that spending money at his business, Espresso Bay, is tantamount to supporting a campaign of fear and discrimination. We don’t always know where a business will direct its profits, but we certainly do not want to inadvertently contribute to a campaign that we find abhorrent. James and Caroline Kulczyk Traverse City

Dignity and Compassion
I am a resident of Grand Traverse County, but I shop, do volunteer work and play within the city limits. It breaks my heart to have the notion of basic civil rights put to a public vote. The current law, which has been in place for over a year with no dire consequences, precludes discrimination on a number of basic characteristics, including sexual orientation. I hope Traverse City voters will take a stand once and for all against discrimination and vote “yes” on Proposal 1, thus ensuring that all citizens are treated with dignity, justice and compassion. Joan Sheard Traverse City

Not about business - It's about bias
Steve Francis’ Oct. 15 Forum is a red herring. He states that “burdensome protection” of gays will hurt business (since when are civil rights “burdensome”?). The issue is not about burdening business, but about a fear that homosexuals will be treated with equality. Francis is an attorney who represents the Alliance Defense Fund, a right-wing organization that is dedicated to fighting ordinances that give legal protection to homosexuals (coordinated, nationwide, by 800 lawyers and 125 right-wing organizations). ADF’S ideology demonstrates the need for the passage of Proposition 1. How unfortunate that legal protection is necessary to combat bigotry and homophobia. Jack Lee Traverse City MORE ABOUT STEVE FRANCIS

Vote yes on Proposal 1 to say no to discrimination
A year ago, the Traverse City commission unanimously approved an antidiscrimination ordinance that extended basic civil rights protections based on gender, race and religion to sexual orientation. In other words, it was no longer OK to discriminate against someone in work or housing just because he or she was gay. Since then, the walls of Jericho have not tumbled down, businesses have not been held hostage by militant gays, people have not been forced to rent rooms in their house to a homosexual. In other words, none of the catastrophes predicted by pro-discrimination forces if the ordinance passed have some to pass. And they won’t if voters uphold it Nov. 8. Arguments that employers won’t be able to fire bad employees who happen to be gay are eyewash. In reality, those people can be fired just as easily as anyone else, but not if their only fault is being gay or, for that matter, if their only fault is being black or female or a Mormon or a Roman Catholic. For the most part, though, the pro-discrimination forces who put the issue on the ballot have relied on an old and tired assertion: that extending basic civil rights to include sexual orientation would somehow give gays “special rights.” What that means isn’t clear, but it makes for a snappy slogan. The truth, though, is what these folks are really peddling is fear, fear of people they don’t understand and of a lifestyle they want to somehow punish. They feel threatened and want the law to let them exclude gays or at least keep them at arm’s length. They want everyone else to endorse their pro-discrimination mindset and make it OK to ostracize someone because that person is different from them. It’s despicable and has no place here. Vote “yes” Nov. 8 to retain the ordinance. Editor’s note: The wording on Proposal 1 could be confusing to voters, so here’s a simple rule: Think of it as a referendum on discrimination, which is really what it is. To ban discrimination, vote “yes.” Traverse City Record Eagle Editorial Staff

Prop 1 yes; Commissioner Budros yes
Vote “yes” on Proposal 1. All people should have equal protections under the law. It provides exactly the same rights to every one of us, regardless of sexual orientation. That’s pretty much the point. Special rights have nothing to do with it and are only scare tactics. Vote for Barb Budros for city commission. Together we have worked to keep the unique small-town character we all love in Traverse City. Protecting our unique neighborhoods while managing essential services, keeping government open and honest and supporting all peoples’ rights is important. Vote yes on Proposal 1 and to re-elect Barb Budros. Jim Carruthers Traverse City The writer is an incumbent city commissioner who is seeking re-election.

Vote YES on Prop 1
Growing up as a lesbian in Traverse City I have witnessed all kinds of discrimination, and that is why everyone needs to vote Yes on Proposal One. We need to keep the NON-discrimination Ordinance. I believe that everyone deserves the right to have equal job and housing opportunities. Being able to have a roof over your head and food in your stomach is a basic human right. Voting Yes on Proposal One ensures that everyone is on an equal playing field. Getting a job shouldn't be any harder than it already is. There is the belief that voting yes would lead to discrimination; this is simply not the case. This ordinance as been in effect for over a year and there have been no unwanted consequences. Currently, all citizens of Traverse City enjoy the equal rights they deserve in the housing and job markets. There are specific cases were the law does not apply, making sure it does not infringe on anyone's religious or personal rights. In conclusion everyone needs to vote yes on Proposal One to ensure equality in our hometown. Everyone deserves the right to a home and a job, no matter what age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Ashleigh Curtis, Traverse City

Stand for Fellow Citizens
Proposal One prohibits discriminatory practices in housing, public accommodations and employment (with religious exceptions). The city commission heard two days of testimony from citizens (your neighbors, friends and family members) describing how they have been treated unfairly because of their sexual orientation. After hearing the testimony, our commissioners voted unanimously to create the non-discrimination ordinance. Outsiders from Midland and some individuals in Traverse City believe it is appropriate to discriminate against a minority. This is wrong. We need to stand up for our fellow citizens by voting a resounding “yes” on Proposal One on Nov. 8. John McDonald Traverse City

Welcome all in TC
It is my privilege to vote “yes” on the non-discrimination ordinance on Nov. 8. I will cast this vote based on my conscience and my faith, which commands that I “love my neighbor as myself,” and the Golden Rule, which urges “Do unto others as I would have them do unto me.” For me, “others” means all God’s children. Inclusive, not exclusive. I would ask others to examine their consciences. You don’t have to approve of homosexuality to vote yes. You’re just saying no discrimination here. We welcome all to Traverse City. Affirm it and vote yes. Elizabeth “Betty” Lewis Traverse City

Say YES to Traverse City
There's an old saying, “All things being equal...” (e.g.: All things being equal, who's the most qualified applicant?) Currently in Traverse City,

“No person shall adopt, enforce or employ any policy or requirement which has the effect of creating unequal opportunities according to actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, family status, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, or gender identity, for a person to obtain housing, employment or public accommodation.” (Chapter 605 of the Codified Ordinances of Traverse City -

All things being “equal,” every person deserves the same opportunity to contribute the full extent of his, or her, capabilities to business, culture, and community. All careers and accommodations should be open to all people on the basis of their talent, education, and skills – independent of their actual or perceived characteristics. Please don't be mislead by those attempting to deny equal opportunity. The preservation of Equal Opportunity under the law for our neighbors, friends, and family will be challenged at the ballot box in Traverse City on November 8, 2011. Kindly vote YES (Proposition 1) to keep the Traverse City Equal Opportunity Ordinance. M'Lynn Hartwell, Traverse City

I came out today!
I came out TODAY! It feels so great, and the best part is that I have gotten so many letters and comments from friends and family supporting me. I was always afraid of this day, but now it's become really exciting seeing how many people love me. I know that the best is yet to come. Jerid Duffield

I Had To Accept Myself
First I came out at the age of 20/21. I was raised in Catholic schools, and was taught to feel ashamed of myself. I was sitting in my dorm room in February of 2006, at the age of 20, contemplating my suicide. I could have very well been like so many of the tragic stories that have come out recently. I decided I had to just live for myself. I came out and said I was gay in the mirror, and cried for hours. But the next day, I woke up at peace. And so I came out over the following year. I lost friends. But I also found out who my real friends were, and have made many new friends in the past four years. My family accepts me. I like being alive. Michael Stratmoen

Equal protection under the law
Unitarian Universalism is a faith tradition that honors the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We believe that the Traverse City Commission did the right thing in passing the anti-discrimination ordinance to protect the rights of all citizens. The ballot proposal to support that decision is more than bipartisan; it is humanitarian. For this reason, we fully support and are grateful for the efforts of Traverse City Equality to make sure everyone in our beautiful community receives equal protection under the law. The Rev. Dr. Leisa Huyck Traverse City Max Old Bear Traverse City The writers are members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grand Traverse; Max Old Bear is president of the board of trustees

All deserve Dignity
Is it not right to respect what has been created? Are not all people deserving of dignity and due rights? Please vote “yes” to retain the Nondiscrimination Ordinance in Traverse City. Joyce Braeuninger Traverse City

Vote ‘yes’ for justice
Among the several meanings of justice in Webster’s II dictionary are the following: “upholding what is right” and “the quality of being fair or impartial.” Treating all our fellow citizens of Traverse City and our visitors needs to be based on the equality and acceptance of all, no matter what color, gender, religion, ethnic culture, lifestyle or choice of partner. Voting “yes” on Traverse City’s non-discrimination question ensures that all are treated as equals. It is also the mark of a caring, inclusive community. Vote yes for justice; vote yes on the city proposal. Ann Rogers Traverse City

League of Women Voters Support a “YES” vote on Proposal 1: Traverse City Non-Discrimination Ordinance
The issue before us on Nov. 8 is simply whether to keep an ordinance that extends the right to housing, jobs and public accommodations to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, including heterosexuals, gays and lesbians. Nationally, the League of Women Voters is committed to equal rights for all persons, regardless of race, color, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation or disability. The Traverse City Nondiscrimination Ordinance, which you are asked to vote “yes” to keep in November, reflects this commitment by treating all people equally. There are those who will tell you that it is more than that. It is not. READ MORE

Vote to Keep Equality
Traverse City voters have a unique opportunity on Nov. 8. By voting “yes” to keep the Nondiscrimination Ordinance, they can be personally responsible for keeping Traverse City on the list of Michigan communities that provide equal rights of opportunity and access to all their citizens. Cities as diverse as Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids passed similar laws, as did the Traverse City Commission — unanimously — last October. Only noise from a splinter group has again made this an issue, so treat this splinter the way you would any other. Vote yes to keep fairness and equality hallmarks of Michigan’s finest city. William A. Rossbach Williamsburg

The Right Thing To Do
Vote “yes” to keep the Traverse City Nondiscrimination Ordinance. The ordinance is fair and balanced. It protects everybody and hurts no one. The ordinance was unanimously passed by the Traverse City City Commission. Together, we can send the message that Traverse City is open, inclusive and values equality enough to say that our city will not discriminate against anyone. Voting yes to keep the ordinance is the right and moral thing to do. Lee Hornberger Traverse City

A Community Issue
In a recent Record-Eagle Forum, Paul Nepote contends that there is no need for the ordinance that prohibits discrimination of LGBT individuals based on such. He also asserts that the nation will be watching Traverse City to see how the ordinance is voted on in the upcoming election. To begin, the nation is not concerned with the identity politics of a small town in Michigan. This particular issue will not receive the coverage that state-level laws would. This is an issue for our community. Very little can be done about personal attitudes about LGBT issues, but we can protect our community members from economic and political isolation because of gaps existing laws. While Mr. Nepote argues that there has not been one instance of discrimination because of sexual orientation here, this statement is impossible to verify. Because of the lack of legislation prohibiting these activities, any previous incidents would not be reported because there was no legitimate legal avenue to do so. Care for fellow human beings is hardly a progressive value, and can be found in the same books and chapters where so many find support for a less accepting viewpoint. Aubrey D. Blanche Traverse City

Dogma and Lung Power
As a minister, social and civil rights advocate, as well as a concerned community member, I am curious why the risk of hypocrisy seems forever invisible to "politicized" Christians, for whom sufficient proof of faith consists of loud and unambiguous declarations from their bully pulpit. I am always surprised that more is not heard from sincere religious believers... people who have the most to lose if faith becomes a matter of poll-time dogma and lung power. Perhaps it's time for the people-of-faith-community to stand up to the charlatans and bigots who attempt to use the Christian Bible as a club to hammer oppose "real" Christian values such as justice, compassion, and unconditional love. M'Lynn Hartwell

Trust Me, to Take Care of Myself
Don't try to convert or convince me. Trust me, it's not going to happen. Don't preach or press your beliefs on me. Trust me, I am not impressed. You just believe what you believe, and I'll believe what I believe, and we can just agree to respectfully disagree. Isn't this really the best way to demonstrate our respect for one another as friends and as a compassionate caring community. Monica

Fairness and Equality
I would like to tell you how much I appreciate your fairness and support of the anti-discrimination ordinance. The editorial you published in July 7 paper, “Our View,” touched the very pulse of truth. I, as well as many others, would agree with all of what you have expressed. Again, I appreciate that you honor what is fair and just. I would like to add that people who are in support of overturning the ordinance should simply be happy living their own lives and not interfere with issues that have nothing to do with them personally. It is not about them, it is about the fairness of equality for all people. René A. Jeffries Traverse City

Bigotry is ‘Insidious’
Having recently visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., I am reminded of what happens to a society when it allows one segment to stigmatize or set apart another segment simply because its way of life, color, sexuality, politics or values is different from that of those making the judgment. This perceived difference supposedly allows for hate, disrespect, and even in the case of our schools and young people, bullying. History repeats and its episodes sometimes judged insignificant unless taken as a whole. Pastor Martin Niemöller famously said of the rise of the fascists: “First they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist. 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.” Bigotry starts slowly but its progress, if left unchecked, is insidious. History need not repeat itself, if only we could all remember to treat others as we would like to be treated. Tina Lane Traverse City

A Very Disturbed and Troubled Man
Paul Nepote is a very disturbed, troubled man... I feel sorry for him and his paranoid, homophobic cronies. They probably all consider themselves to be good Christians... I thought "Tolerance" is a fundamental Christian value. Deni Scudato, Traverse City (former City Commissioner)

We are Traverse City
We are Traverse City. All of us. Even the bigots cloaking themselves in religious ignorance. So lets all work together and get this over with. Maybe with a couple of goofy public votes are needed to send the message to our friends in the ultra religious community that they do reflect just a very narrow section of out local society, and they can give up trying to convince a majority of anything. I would of hoped that the evangelicals would have cleaned up their own shop before letting these two guys make their whole flock look demonizing, hateful, and retentive. But its not too late. However if the pastors in that section of worship stay silent, maybe the stereotype does indeed fit. I would expect that religion is included in the anti-bullying policy. I hope that the children of bigots get the same protection as those of differing sexual orientation. Going Forward, Traverse City

Big-ot (noun): a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats members of a group with hatred and intolerance.
Yup, sounds about right. Mr. Nepote should remember that he has posted comments to the R-E that fit that definition. And here's the best part, you'll love the irony...when I suggested that he stop obsessing on this issue back in February, Nepote called me a "hateful and bigoted homosexual assissin [sic]" in his R-E comment. I support gay rights, but I'm neither a homosexual, a bigot or an assassin. Not particularly hateful either. Sorry. Bigotry is bigotry. There is a reason our language has that word...because of people like Mr. Nepote and Mr. Wiesner. I also support the proper use of our language too by the way. (Special note to Mr. Nepote: It's too late to edit-out that ill-fated comment, it has already been brought to the attention of the R-E editors. They have it on file.) I suggest we include bigots as a protected category too. Their suffering goes well beyond a simple first amendment issue. It's not just about their right by law to spew small-minded venom (in fact the R-E prints it, front page, above the fold no less, with a side-bar). It's actually about the pain and humiliation they must feel when their views are so thoroughly condemned. Indeed, they are ridiculed daily for their bigotry. Sad, this tragic bigotry burden they bear...I suppose it is due to an unfortunate life-style "choice". They certainly weren't born that way! Afterall, who would want the stigma of being labled intolerant or ignorant all their lives? Naw....Just kidding! Research shows that one of the most common bully ploys is to play the victim when caught in the act. And they have certainly nailed that tactic with the whining about being called a bigot. A bigot by any other name is still a bigot. Amy Kerr-Hardin, Traverse City

Religious ‘atrocities’
The tragic deaths in the wake of the burning of the Quran are devastating. This was an entirely predictable response to a completely unnecessary act by a Florida pastor who arrogantly presided as judge over a “trial” of the Quran, then oversaw the burning of Islam’s sacred writings. It was predictable because the Rev. Terry Jones was informed by knowledgeable officials that this would incite violence, and was unnecessary because even dramatic avenues for his thoughts didn’t have to include this deliberate provocation. Similarly, Westboro Baptist Church celebrates the deaths of military persons within sight of grieving family, declaring God’s wrath for America’s acceptance of gay persons. Implicit in this declaration is not only that gay persons are responsible for society’s ills, but in God’s eyes, the fate of the nation lies in vengeful treatment. I don’t take exception to today’s forum on free speech. However, legal does not equal moral. Moral is not exclusively, but is uniquely the domain of faith communities. The King congressional hearing grills only Islam about violent elements. What about others? Add my name to the list of Christian voices lamenting and condemning the aforementioned atrocities by churches as distinctly immoral and non-Biblical. How about yours? The Rev. Stan VerHeul Traverse City

Uncomfortable in their skin
I am convinced that people who fear homosexuality are uncertain about or uncomfortable with their own sexuality and would prefer that it be kept out of the open so they don’t have to think about it. As if, by not talking about it, it does not exist. Moreover, the idea that communicating about such issues creates enthusiasm for a particular lifestyle is completely ludicrous. It cannot be an easy life to be gay/lesbian/transgender in today’s society. Why would anyone “choose” a life in which they will most likely be subject to bullying, discrimination and hate? Shame on those who would teach their children intolerance and bigotry under the guise of Christian values. What would Jesus do? Patrice Wisner Arcadia [Editor: there are in fact many scientific and medical studies that prove that the people who are the most virulently anti-gay, are in fact in deep denial about their own personal feelings. Their over the top anti-gay campaigns are in fact a very personal way of hating those feelings within themselves.]

I Used To Be An Outspoken Homophobe, But I Changed My Mind
At one time, I was an outspoken self-righteous homophobe. I held this attitude for years, until I discovered that many of my friends and family were/are bi/gay. My brother-in-law (who I've known since birth), was the person who helped me the most. See, I'd watched him grow and develop into his high-school years. At first, I believe he tried to deny/hide his orientation, and engaged in sports - even to this day, he is an avid sports nut. However, one day he came to me and talked about his feelings toward himself and others, and that he feared how everyone else would react. I was honored that he chose me to share this with first, and I realized that I had been so wrong. Since then, my wife and I have spent a large portion of our time participating in gay-rights demonstrations, and every gay-pride parade we can find time for. O Nix

Blaming scapegoats
Humankind is known to blame a scapegoat for bad times. Minorities are prime targets for displaced anger and frustration. Germany did it to the Jews, Gypsies, etc., in WWII. Now it is homosexuals, Hispanics and Muslims. But why be angry at homosexuals just because they privately do something many of us perhaps don’t? It is not our business. If God is interested, that settlement comes later, not for us now. Hispanics want to earn a fair day’s wage and support their families, just like the rest of us. For the most part they are extremely honest. Sure, there are bad eggs in every group of people including white middle-class Christians, but blaming all Muslims for terrorism? The present inflation of Islam phobia has gone too far. To suspect all of a respectful, peace-loving religion comprised of people who want to be allowed to love and serve their country, America, shows our narrowness of thought and disrespect for others. Shame. Emmy Lou Cholak Traverse City

When did you choose
Dear Mr. Gillman, Tell us, when did you choose to be a heterosexual? I carefully read all your excuses for your unfortunate remarks. I am sorry that you had a bad incident in your youth. Many adults did. They don’t blame a group nor extend to that group greater wrongs. Generalizations based upon insufficient information are dangerous and harmful. As for DADT being repealed, this was done at the request of the military. Various politicians also supported the long overdue elimination of a policy that forced people serving in the military to lie. Your empty explanation is just that, empty. Lynn Larson, Traverse City

A former HRC Commissioner provides clarity
Former Human Rights Commissioner, M'Lynn Hartwell, addresses the City of Traverse City, City Commissioners on the issue of Equality | CLICK HERE TO READ

Need comprehensive law
The diversity of the people of the United States is what makes us unique. Other than American Indians, we are all immigrants of different time spans. I have a hard time understanding the attitude of people who use the term “alien” to describe this new group of immigrants. When I think of alien, I have an image of one from outer space. The people coming now are being recruited to work in our orchards and pick our crops, work that Americans are not doing. Our area has seen increased arrests of unauthorized immigrants, including 17 in Traverse City in November. This Immigration and Custom Enforcement action is not just targeting criminals but picking up people who have lived in northern Michigan for years working and contributing constructively to our community. These raids hurt local farms, businesses, schools, real people — our neighbors and coworkers, not aliens. They are being deported to their home country where they have no roots. This is tearing families apart with very little hope of being reunited for years. We are better than this, we must demand that ICE stop these indiscriminate raids and our government solve this issue with a comprehensive immigration law. Barbara Schneider Maple City

I love the gays. Always have.
I respect the hell out of them. Because at some point in his or her life, every gay person has to look society straight in the eye and say: “I’m gay, and I really don’t give a f--- what you think.” And that isn’t an easy thing to do. You can’t really be free until you don’t give a f---. And not giving a f--- is just about the hardest thing there is to do. And every gay person has to do it. And I respect the hell out of that. Always have. John A.

Power vs Force
The “special rights” mantra against gays in connection with the city commission’s unanimous anti-discrimination ordinance is so flawed as to be dead on utterance. Paul Nepote’s latest bigoted parroting “destruction of American morality” rhetoric is just as lacking in truth and reason. Sadly, Nepote isn’t alone in his views. Those motivated by ignorance, fear and blind obedience to perceived authority constitute a formidable negative force designed to take away, to constrict, degrade and to polarize. Fortunately there exists a far greater, nobler influence appealing to the harmonious side of human nature — that of positive power. Born of positive principles, its goal is that of uplifting, dignifying, unifying and supporting harmony. Positive power is nourished by the divine cosmic whole of man’s higher nature, while negative force is fed by a constant stream of negative energy. America’s history is replete with clashes between power and force regarding race, women’s rights, slavery and religion among others, where positive power has prevailed. Gay human beings’ equal rights to life, liberty and happiness shall in the end be upheld by the positive higher nature of our community and nation. Be a part of this truth. The Rev. Harry C. Dorman Traverse City

Paul Nepote Worse Than Fred Phelps
Although Paul Nepote (founder of FagFreeTC, AFA-TC, Gay Watch and who knows what else) is trying to portray his outrageous words and behavior as somehow more temperate than those of Fred Phelps (in a letter to the editor recently published in the Record Eagle). I fail to see any major differences between them. Paul Nepote was very supportive of area churches that came out in opposition to gay rights, including the people that brought Fred Phelps to Traverse City. To make matters worse, Nepote and his supporters have often quoted Scott Lively when presenting before our City Commissioners. Scott Lively, as that "kill the gays" guy is far more dangerous than Fred Phelps, who merely damns all people to an eternity in hell. Therefore isn't Paul Nepote's group even more radical and dangerous than the wacky, but otherwise harmless, Fred Phelps, pastor of Wesboro Baptist Church? Lee Davis

Being hated, reviled, threatened and living with fear of physical abuse or/and death is the normal way of life for GBLT people in Ohio and Michigan. Why do people like Paul Nepote think allowing me to exist is a threat to them? What happened to the now-abandoned Christian teaching (from Jesus himself) that his followers should "love everyone" and "judge no one"? I'm no threat to any of them, but they are a real and omnipresent threat to me. How did Jesus, whom they proclaim as the "God of Love", become a god of hatred and discrimination? Name Withheld by Request

Is this hyper-violent rhetoric to become the new norm now? I realize the hatred has always been there, but now it seems increasingly acceptable to vent and act on it. Very disturbing and definitely a sign of a society in decline. Samdi

Moral decay?
I appreciate Mr. Nepote's spectacular forum on Traverse City's anti-discrimination ordinance. I hope he keeps it up. His ridiculous prognostications of moral decay, wrought by protecting the rights for all, assures the referendum's failure. Anna Norris, Traverse City

We no longer have to apologize for loving one another
I, with my own two eyes and ears, got to witness this historic moment when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are now elevated one step closer to the status of ordinary citizen. Tim Earhart

Proud of ordinance
I am so proud to live here. Congratulations to the Traverse City Commissioners for unanimously passing the anti-discrimination ordinance. I must take issue with the Record-Eagle quote from opponent Mike Mulcahy, who said, "There's a lot of people who are opposed to this ordinance who have a good reason to be opposed to it, they've got a view of the planet that includes a higher power." If that's your "good reason," think again. The implication is that ordinance supporters or those who are homosexual do not have a higher power? Granted, religion has not been especially kind or loving to gays and lesbians, but this does not mean that we are atheists. Because my God may not look like Mike Mulcahy's God does not mean that I don't have one. My higher power loves me for who I am and has created me as I am; and though I've spent a lifetime internalizing the kind of fear and hatred perpetuated by the likes of Mr. Mulcahy, I am learning to love and respect myself and others despite religious beliefs that suggest fear and hatred trump love and tolerance. Love is always greater than fear, despite our differences. Namaste.
Dianna Johnson, Traverse City

If It Quacks Like a Duck...
I had to chuckle out loud when I read Mr. Paul Nepote’s letter in the last edition of the Northern Express. It’s like a child crying when he gets their hand slapped, after being caught in the cookie jar! I remember my conservative grandfather telling me as a child, “if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks likes a duck, IT IS A DUCK”! Well, I appreciate Mr. Nepote trying to wrap his warped idea of patriotism around his bigotry; however, the reality is, “if you preach hate like a bigot, encourage discrimination like a bigot, and squawk bigotry, YOU ARE A BIGOT!” Paul Nepote choose his actions and they clearly show his bigoted, homophobic, and hatred of diversity; by fighting an anti-discrimination ordinance. Sorry Paul, it is just the consequences of your actions and your own choosing. I will pray for you Paul. Brian Simerson • Traverse City

Ordinance a no-brainer
I applaud the current City Commission for finally passing an anti-discrimination ordinance. I sat before the commission 12 years ago and argued the point. A no-brainer. It's unfortunate there are people who oppose it. I appreciate the Record-Eagle's editorial on Sunday, Oct. 10, in support of the anti-discrimination ordinance. Tom Emmott Traverse City

We Are
We are all androgynous, not only because we are all born of a woman impregnated by the seed of a man but because each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other—male in female, female in male, white in black and black in white. We are a part of each other. Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair, and so, very often, do I. But none of us can do anything about it. Baldwin, James

I see several misunderstandings by Paul Nepote
1) He falsely believes that LGBT individuals are already protected from discrimination under current laws
2) He falsely believes that civil rights protections should only be permitted for immutable characteristics (and he doesn’t consider being gay to be an immutable characteristic)—if that was true we would have no such protections for religion—where people can choose which faith to practice
3) He falsely believes that the ordinance should prohibit religious activities of religious organizations from discriminating (this would violate the constitutional separation fo church and state) and finally,
4) He falsely believes that individuals and organizations engaging in non-religious activities have a constitutional right to discriminate based on religious beliefs—this is not true. If a person or entity voluntarily chooses to engage in non-religious activity—i.e. commerce—that person and entity is subject to laws and regulations governing commerce—including anti-discrimination laws. We don’t carve out an exemption from our civil rights laws based upon religious belief, for non-religious activity.
Jay Kaplan, ACLU Staff Attorney

Proud of hometown
"Traverse City approves anti-discrimination ordinance." Welcome to the 21st Century, Traverse City; I am proud to call you my home town. Gary Rushton Peoria, Ariz.

Honor One Another
The interconnectedness of all life demands that we treat all others with honor and integrity. We are part of a vast family, from which we can never withdraw. All personal relationships are covenants, and should be treated with respect and love. Each of us, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, family status, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, or gender identity deserve an equal opportunity to all the benefits and responsibilties that exist in this place we call home. M'Lynn Hartwell, Traverse City


In Support of the Traverse City Equal Opportunity Ordinance
City of Traverse City

FacebookOctober 04, 2010—At the regular City Commission meeting Mary Van Valin grew emotional as she stood at a podium to address the Traverse City Commission. "I have a dream that this community will stand on the side of love, not fear," Valin said Monday night.

Van Valin got her wish when the City Commissioners unanimously approved the Equal Opportunity Ordinance.

Equal Opportunity for the residents of Traverse City will be decided at the ballot box on November 8, 2011. Please vote.




Opposing the Traverse City Equal Opportunity Ordinance
Paul Nepote, et all

October 05, 2010—Paul Nepote filed notice of a Referendum Petition that he circulated for signatures, which reads: We, the undersigned registered voters of the City of Traverse City, under and by virtue of the authority granted by Chapter XV of the Traverse City Charter, do hereby protest against the following ordinance taking effect and petition your submission of said ordinance to the registered voters of the City of Traverse City, County of Grand Traverse, State of Michigan.



Traverse City Equal Opportunity Ordinance

No person shall adopt, enforce or employ any policy or requirement which has the effect of creating unequal opportunities according to actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, family status, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, or gender identity, for a person to obtain housing, employment or public accommodation.

Equal Opportunity for the residents of Traverse City will be decided at the ballot box on November 8, 2011. Please vote.



Protect Liberty and Justice for All

October 06, 2010—The “TC Equality” group and this web site came into being more than a year ago for the purpose of preserving and protecting equal opportunity and equal protection in Traverse City. We appreciate your assistance.

Please share your time and resources freely. Help support the cost of protecting and preserving equal opportunity in our community. Every dollar you are able to contribute, and any time you are able to donate is deeply appreciated.

Your receipt will read
"Utopian Empire Creativeworks"

Contact us at :
TC Equality
PO Box 9
Traverse City, MI 49685-0009

Please make checks payable to:
We Are Traverse City
attn: TC Equality

Vote Yes



We are each entitled to our opinion,
and we are each also entitled to our version of “the truth,”
but we are NOT entitled to our own personal version of “facts.”

This web site represents a collaboration among professional researchers, academics, historians, scholars, theologians, and concerned community members. All electronic citations are hyperlinked back to the original source. All print citations are appropriately indicated, whenever possible to assure you of the credibility and quality of information.

Dear media professionals, researchers, ministers, pastors, rabbis, priests, a'immah, lawyers, neighbors, friends, information recyclers and every other visitor to these pages: We wish to take this opportunity to point out, just in case it was not already totally and most glaringly obvious, that the citations, opinions, and research expressed herein, may, or may not, reflect our own beliefs and viewpoints, or those of our collaborators, supporters, detractors, disinterested, chronic malcontents, web hosts, agents, our registrar, family members, friends, assigns, particular person or entity. Viewpoints expressed and cited herein remain exclusively the sole responsibility of their author or authors.

Web Site Design ©2011 Utopian Empire Creativeworks
Web Site Hosting generously donated by "We Are Traverse City"
TC Equality was established 06-October 2010
Terms of Use | Principals of Ethics and Conduct