Oct. 2 2013 12:00 AM

Delhi Township passes non-discrimination ordinance; progress in Meridian Township

Wednesday, Oct. 2 — On Tuesday night, Delhi Township became the third community in greater Lansing to pass a non-discrimination ordinance protecting individuals in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Two more communities — Delta and Meridian townships — appear poised to approve similar legislation in the next month.

Joining East Lansing and Lansing, which have similar laws on the books, Delhi also became the 28th community in Michigan to pass a non-discrimination ordinance, according to One Capital Region, an organization advocating for such local legislation in hopes of influencing statewide policy.

Under Delhi’s ordinance, which was passed unanimously, discrimination complaints related to housing, employment and public accommodations can be filed with the township Manager’s Office. That office can resolve the complaint or forward it to a four-member committee made up of a township board member, the township manager, the human resources director and a member of the community.

The complaint review committee may recommend a series of remedies, including fines. Violating the ordinance is a civil infraction, with a $500 fine for the first offense. Fines increase with subsequent offenses.

As the Delhi Township board met to approve its non-discrimination ordinance, the Meridian Township Board of Trustees continued its ongoing discussion Tuesday night of similar legislation.

At its prior meeting on Sept. 17, three board members expressed concern over potential costs, litigation and burden on the township’s Human Resources Department. Trustee Milton Scales has said he doesn’t support the ordinance because he thinks such protections — which he believes should be given — should be granted by the state Legislature, not local units of government.

However, Trustee Angela Wilson said today that there appears to be at least four yes-votes on the ordinance, making its passage likely.

The board is scheduled to formally introduce the ordinance at its Oct. 15 meeting. Before then, some language related to health benefits will likely be tweaked and a steeper fine structure will be added, she said. Wilson said the board would likely approve the ordinance at its first meeting in November.

Delta Township, the third greater Lansing community considering a non-discrimination ordinance, formally introduced legislation last month and it’s expected to pass there on Monday.