Kalamazoo, MI Gay Rights Ordinance VICTORY!

**UPDATE 10:00pm ET With 80% of the votes counted we can officially declare VICTORY IN KALAMAZOO MICHIGAN!  65%-35%

Today, Kalamazoo, MI voters will decide the fate of a City Ordinance No. 1856 that protects people from discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations.  The ordinance already exists; however, the new version amends the original ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity.  The ballot question reads:

Shall Ordinance No. 1856, adopted by the City Commission June 29, 2009, which amended Chapter 18 of the City Code of Ordinances to generally prohibit discriminatory practices on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, marital status, physical or mental disability, family status, sexual orientation or gender identity in the provision of housing, public accommodations, and employment, take effect?

iQreport will be providing updates throughout the evening as results are entered.  Bookmark this post and check back frequently for updates:

***UPDATES POSTED BELOW AS POLL RESULTS BECOME AVAILABLE***

UPDATE 6:56 ET: Polls will be closing soon, and we’ll be making short order of getting updates to you as results come pouring in.  Expect Kalamazoo’s precincts to be counted and in before Maine tonight, so follow us first, and then switch over to the Maine coverage when we’ve recorded the Kalamazoo results! -Phil Reese

UPDATE 7:06 ET:  Adam Taylor, blogger and Kalamazoo resident says, “Saying NO to discrimination to a population based on housing, accommodation and employment is NEVER discrimination!” -Phil Reese

UPDATE 7:45 ET: Polls will close in 15 minutes in Kalamazoo, and some precincts are expected to deliver results right away.  Many informal polls done by local media outlets have shown that 1856–the Kalamazoo Anti-Discrimination Ordinance–have shown it passing.  OneKalamazoo has had the clear fundraising advantage, as well as the clout–well respected organizations like the NAACP have been helping OneKalamazoo camapaign against discrimination.  -Phil Reese

UPDATE 8:00 ET: As polls close, and we wait for results, here is a quote from the WKZO (Kalamazoo AM 590) piece on the ordinance:

Kalamazoo City Commissioners have voted unanimously twice to endorse equal housing and employment rights for gays and transgendered residents and last night they once again urge citizens to support it…

…The process for enacting this ordinance has been one of the most comprehensive and public in city history, and they say today’s vote will complete that process.
The anti-discrimination ordinance has gotten most of the attention this election cycle, but there are other issues on the ballot today in Kalamazoo County.

This blogger is crossing his fingers that Kalamazoo doesn’t discriminate!

UPDATE 8:30 ET: At half past, we’re still sans update, but some other West Michigan results are starting to eke in, so I’m expecting ours at any moment.  Please tell your friends to watch this page for more updates! -Phil Reese

UPDATE 8:31 ET:  Word is that the K-zoo City Commission race was hotly contested–17 candidates running for 7 positions–and turnout was unusually high in this race.  Generally a City Commission race with no State or National contests draws less than 15% of registered Kalamazoo voters.  They are expecting at least 25% out today, if not more.  This will greatly increase the time needed to count these votes.  -Phil

UPDATE 9:00 ET: According to OneKalamazoo field director, Trystan Reese, unofficial results are that the Ordinance passed 65-35.  Hold on while this is confirmed with state elections officials… -Phil Reese

UPDATE 9:08 ET: With 5%  reporting, 1856 is behind 48% for 52% against.  -Phil Reese

UPDATE 9:15 ET: OneKalamazoo is already celebrating victory, Trystan Reese called up Bil Browning of Bilerico.com to let him know, Bil’s partner Jerame could hear the celebration loud and clear from Bil’s phone across the room.  Something tells me this one is probably going to go well.  -Phil Reese

UPDATE 9:20 ET:  According to Bil Browning of Bilerico.com, looks like our National Organizations are taking OneKalamazoo’s lead: “Victory Fund and HRC are calling it in our favor too.” -Phil Reese

UPDATE 9:21 ET:  Anyone else get the OneKalamazoo press release in their inbox?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 3rd, 2009

ONE KALAMAZOO DECLARES VICTORY IN BALLOT FIGHT
Kalamazoo residents approve nondiscrimination ordinance

“Our campaign started with a very basic idea, and today voters confirmed that we are One Kalamazoo,” said Campaign Manager, Jon Hoadley.

With only absentee ballots outstanding, 65 percent of Kalamazoo voters have approved Ordinance 1856 by a vote of 6,463 to 3,527, adding protections for gay and transgender people to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.  This margin is larger than the number of outstanding absentee ballots that are currently being counted.

“I am elated with the outcome of the election,” says Yes on Ordinance 1856/One Kalamazoo Steering Committee member and local resident Janice Brown.  “This vote reinforces what our campaign set out to prove – that our fellow residents of Kalamazoo share the belief that all people should be treated fairly and equally, including gay and transgender people.”

The outcome of today’s vote confirmed that all hardworking people in Kalamazoo should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families without fear of being fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.

“Kalamazoo is a great place to live and the passage of Ordinance 1856 makes the city an even better place,” says local resident Rev. Matt Laney, Pastor of the First Congregational Church.  “I am proud to live in a city that recognizes that all people deserve fairness and respect.”

The Yes on 1856/ One Kalamazoo campaign in support of the nondiscrimination ordinance involved hundreds of local volunteers and contributors, and had the endorsement of over 30 local religious, social, business, and political organization.   The campaign would like to thank the Kalamazoo community for asserting their belief in the inherent equality of all Kalamazoo residents, and the countless volunteers for their hard work and dedication in recent months – and in some case, years – to ensure the passage of the ordinance.

UPDATE 9:35 ET:  NEW RESULTS IN!  1783 YES 1120 NO!  LOOKS LIKE ITS PASSING! -Phil Reese

UPDATE 9:55 ET: WITH 15/19 PRECINCTS REPORTING, 6333 YES 4007 NO!  WE HAVE A WINNER! -Phil Reese

  • The author of Ord 1856 Terry K. who is running for Kalamazoo City Commission is the first openly gay candidate, is reported to have made it to the City Commission. Bringing the cherry to the sundae of Equality and Diversity in Kalamazoo.

    —Adam Taylor, Resident, Gay man, activist that has worked with Terry in Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality, and Vice Chair of MI Dems LBGTA Caucus

  • Well at least we can celebrate this victory, and the victory we attained in the State of Washington, where the state’s “everything but marriage” statute was retained. We now have to decide how to move forward with respect to gay marriage, following our sad defeat in Maine. The Governor of New York State has promised to shepherd a gay marriage act through the state Senate in the coming days and weeks (a similar measure has already cleared the Assembly), and we should now redouble our efforts to ensure that Patterson keeps to his word…

    PHILIP CHANDLER

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