Petition drive forces Royal Oak, Mich., to put gay rights measure on the ballot


Staff Reports

ROYAL OAK, Mich. — Residents of the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak will vote in November on a human rights ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and a number of other factors.

The Royal Oak City Commission voted 7-0 on Monday to authorize the ballot question after a petition drive blocked the previously approved ordinance from going into effect.

The City Commission approved the human rights ordinance on a 6-1 vote March 4.

Resident Fred Birchard later submitted petitions with enough signatures seeking repeal of the law, leaving the commission to decide whether to repeal it or let voters decide.

Birchard led a successful 2001 campaign to block a similar law, but supporters of the measure say public acceptance of gay rights has grown since then.

Birchard, 75, claims the law “will allow men and boys who think they are women and girls to use women’s restrooms and showers and play on girls’ sports teams.”

“That’s religious discrimination, association discrimination and a wicked policy,” he told The Daily Tribune last month.

The law wouldn’t take effect until after the vote.

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