Proposed Non-Discrimination Ordinance
Livonia Chamber of Commerce supports efforts to pass Non-Discrimination Ordinance
Proposed ordinance would be first update to Livonia non-discrimination laws since 1982
The Livonia Chamber of Commerce has endorsed efforts to pass a non-discrimination ordinance in the City of Livonia. The adoption of a new ordinance would be the first update to the City’s non-discrimination laws since 1982.
A non-discrimination ordinance would extend protections for LGBTQ+ community members, among other protected classes, in real estate transactions, housing, employment and public accommodations citywide. Nearly 60 other Michigan municipalities have already adopted non-discrimination ordinances.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion are not just values our community holds, rather, they are priorities that Livonia residents have come together to ask us to advance in real ways,” said Livonia Mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan. “A non-discrimination ordinance will help us build on our work in transparency and accountability that Livonia residents and community members expect from their City government.”
Mayor Brosnan has proposed a non-discrimination ordinance, drafted in partnership by the Livonia Human Relations Commission and the City’s Law and Police Departments, for adoption by the Livonia City Council. The proposed ordinance builds on existing language from the City’s code of ordinances, centralizing the responsibility for receiving and reviewing discrimination complaints within the City’s Law Department.
“Over the last year, the Livonia Human Relations Commission has worked with Mayor Brosnan and the City administration to develop an ordinance that makes a more defined statement of our community’s values,” said Human Relations Commission Chair Rich Glover. “This ordinance supports fair and equal treatment of individuals in public spaces across our community.”
“This ordinance is long overdue,” said Glover. “The last time the City of Livonia’s non-discrimination policies were reviewed was 1982, and I am excited and encouraged by the collaborative approach the Livonia Human Relations Commission took in working with the City’s Law Department and Police Department to bring forward this important proposal to expand protections for everyone -- Livonia residents and visitors.”
“Earlier this year, I instituted a non-discrimination policy for City operations that expands these protections for employees and residents in City buildings when accessing public services,” said Mayor Brosnan. “But there is no replacing the expanded protections a non-discrimination ordinance would offer the entire community. So, I’m asking the City Council to move expeditiously in approving the ordinance our Law Department has introduced.”
“The Livonia Police Department stands in support of this ordinance,” said Acting Police Chief Tom Goralski, who was announced as Livonia’s next Chief of Police in June. “This is a common-sense measure that will help keep everyone who lives, works and plays in Livonia safe and protect their rights.”
PFLAG Livonia, the city's largest organization serving LGBTQIA+ individuals and their families, issued the following statement in support of the proposed non-discrimination ordinance: "A non-discrimination ordinance that protects the rights of all Livonia residents and visitors is an important step in demonstrating that our community respects the humanity and dignity of all people, including our LGBTQIA+ neighbors, friends and family. With those protections and assurances in place, new opportunities will arise for commerce, culture, employment and a sense of belonging in our city."
“On behalf of Madonna University, we whole-heartedly endorse the non-discrimination ordinance which has been introduced to Livonia City Council,” said Dr. Michael Grandillo, President of Madonna University. “It validates our mission and values, and I am sure mirrors those of the City we call home.”
“As a proud minority enterprise NYX is unwavering in its support of diversity and inclusion on all levels,” said Jatinder-Bir Sandu, CEO and Chairman of NYX, LLC. “With more than 2,000 employees in the City of Livonia, we believe the proposed NDO exemplifies Livonia’s ongoing commitment to the people who live and work in Livonia and the understanding that diversity and inclusion is a matter of equity and a means to both promote the growth of the city and the businesses who choose to be here. We applaud the Mayor and members of City Council for their efforts to move this NDO forward.”
“As a strong community partner, we ask the Livonia City Council to enact the proposed non-discrimination ordinance,” said Keith Allman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Masco, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Livonia. “An NDO is not only important to promote respect and equity within the City but is good for all businesses, small and large, as well. In order for businesses like Masco to attract and retain talent, it is imperative that we have an ‘arms wide open’ environment in the community in which our employees work.”
“The foundation of any community is a sense of belonging,” the Mayor said. “With the adoption of this ordinance, all Livonia residents and visitors could be sure our City government is unequivocally stating: you belong here.”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Why does Livonia need a non-discrimination ordinance?
Livonia’s two existing ordinances, related to these issues are out of date. These existing ordinances that deal with non-discrimination were last updated in 1982. As such, they do not reflect the values our community holds today.
Unfortunately, instances of discrimination happen in Livonia. This is tough to swallow, but these stories are real and shine a light on what we should all see as unwelcome behavior in our community. This ordinance puts in place a way of enforcing protections when discriminatory behavior crosses the line into violating someone’s rights by affecting their access to public services, public accommodations, housing, employment, or their enjoyment of civil or political rights.
Finally, this ordinance solves a process problem: Livonia residents should have access to a clear procedure for having their discrimination complaints heard at a local level.
2. Why now?
As Livonia becomes more diverse, our community’s needs are changing. Our non-discrimination ordinances have not been updated since 1982, and we need ordinances that not only reflect our community’s commitment to inclusion but provide our diverse community the protections they deserve. Now, more than ever, residents and community members are looking for their elected leaders to take action on diversity, equity and inclusion in meaningful ways, and this proposed ordinance is one example of tangible action the City can take to improve protections for residents in a way that exemplifies our values.
3. Don’t federal or state laws already do this?
This ordinance creates protections for Livonia residents that are not enshrined in state or federal law. There are no federal or state laws that include members of the LGBTQ community as a protected class subject to anti-discrimination statutes and protections. The nearly 60 municipalities across Michigan that have passed these ordinances have done so precisely because there are specific protections this ordinance creates that are not in state or federal law.
4. Who would this ordinance protect?
This ordinance would expand protections from discrimination based on an individual’s race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national or sectional origin, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, or marital status in matters related to their civil or political rights or employment, public accommodations, housing, or public services.
5. What is the importance of including protections for access in public accommodations?
The nearly 60 Michigan municipalities that have non-discrimination ordinances include protections from discrimination in public accommodations, which are places, including private businesses, that offer goods or services to the general public.
It is important to note -- Livonia already has non-discrimination ordinances that involve private businesses, whether that be preventing discrimination in some housing or real estate deals to the requirement that gas station attendants assist those with physical limitations in pumping gas.
Thus, the inclusion of “public accommodations” in this ordinance expands and standardizes the protections in place for some individuals already, ensuring that a broader set of protected classes receive the same protections.
6. Why include a fine?
Violations of this ordinance are punishable by a fine of up to $500. All violations of City ordinances are punishable by a fine of up to $500, unless otherwise stated. Identifying the fine provides an additional disincentive towards discriminatory behavior in violation of this ordinance, while also being a clear statement of our values: Violators damage our entire community when their discriminatory acts violate a person’s access to public services, public accommodations, housing, employment, or their enjoyment of civil or political rights.
7. What other municipalities have non-discrimination ordinances?
Nearly 60 other communities in Michigan already have non-discrimination ordinances. These municipalities come from every corner of the State and include many neighboring communities like Westland, Canton, Dearborn Heights and Farmington Hills.
8. How was the non-discrimination ordinance crafted?
The City of Livonia Human Relations Commission and Livonia Law Department spent more than a year studying Livonia’s current ordinances regarding non-discrimination. In their view, the current ordinance does not adequately provide Livonia residents the protections they deserve nor does it reflect our community’s values. They studied how these ordinances were implemented in other communities. They connected with community leaders and subject-area experts to understand all aspects of the ordinances.
9. Are all instances of discriminatory behavior and speech in violation of this ordinance?
No. The First Amendment provides broad, important protections for behavior and speech, regardless of how intolerant or vile it may be. This ordinance can only be enforced against discriminatory speech and behavior that has an impact in violating someone else’s rights: their right to public accommodation, access to public services, housing or employment. In addition, the speech or behavior must be in part or wholly on the basis of an individual’s race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national or sectional origin, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation or marital status.
10. What is changed from Livonia’s existing non-discrimination ordinances?
No aspects of Livonia’s existing non-discrimination ordinance are eliminated. Instead, existing protections are expanded and streamlined. Livonia’s two ordinances create inconsistencies, with some protected classes being offered some protections in certain circumstances. The new ordinance standardizes these protections, while maintaining other aspects of existing ordinances, such as the provision that gas station attendants, as available, provide assistance to people with physical limitations.
Another addition to existing ordinances is the requirement of non-discrimination language to be included in all City contracts with outside service providers and contractors. Currently, ordinance requires contractors to sign an agreement saying they will not discriminate in hiring based on physical limitation. The new ordinance expands that language to include protections against discrimination against all protected classes.
11. Does this ordinance provide protection for free expression and religious freedom?
This ordinance includes a specific reference that it shall be construed and applied in a manner consistent with the First and 14th Amendments, specifically regarding freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. Not every non-discrimination ordinance identifies these freedoms directly as Livonia’s proposal does.
12. What is this going to cost?
There is no added cost to implementing this new ordinance.