Residents in Linden react to ban on discrimination

Linden city council unanimously approves anti-discrimination ordinance.

Linden becomes the 28th city in Michigan to enact an anti-discrimination ordinance.

Ordinance #344 in the City of Linden is also known as the Human Rights Ordinance. It could potentially fine anyone for discriminating against another person on the basis of age, gender, race and sexual orientation.

"We looked into it and felt it was the right thing to do," said city manager, Paul Zelenak.

Linden city council voted unanimously September 9 in favor of the ordinance.

Zelenak said the city's mayor, David Lossing proposed the ordinance which was heavily supported by council members.

If city leaders and police find that someone has been discriminated against, the violator could face a $500 fine and even jail time.

"Discrimination of any kind we feel is wrong any way shape or form and this is just added protection in our community," he said.

Kathryn Maloney is a local business owner and said the ordinance is common sense.

"I'm very pleased they did this. I think it's unfortunate it has to be spelled out legally because it should be a basic tenant of everyone's approach," said Maloney, owner of Thimbleberry Antiques.

Those who oppose the ruling say it's biased.

"It's a discriminatory solution to a nonexistent problem. There are business owners who say as a matter of conscience I do not want to participate in something that I believe is wrong and yet under these so called sexual orientation laws they're forced to," said Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan.

Meantime, Linden officials hope other Michigan communities pass similar legislation.

"The question is why aren't other communities doing this," said Zelenak.

The ordinance goes into effect in September 24.

Linden city residents have 30 days to gather 453 signatures that would halt the ordinance and place it on the ballot for public vote.