Student asks Eureka Township to adopt nondiscrimination ordinance

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 10:40 am on Thursday, June 13, 2013

EUREKA TOWNSHIP — A Greenville student who approached the Greenville City Council about adopting a nondiscrimination ordinance is also reaching out to Eureka Township.

During Monday’s regular meeting, Justin Barr, a junior at Greenville High School, addressed the Eureka Township Board after being asked by a township board member to attend the meeting and share what he is trying to do.

Barr said he wants the township board to consider a nondiscrimination ordinance so people cannot be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.

“It is a common misconception that federal and state law protect LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people from discrimination,” Barr said. “This is not true, however. Federal law does protect against race, religion, age and sex. It does not protect against sexual identity.”

Barr said there are more than 20 states — including Michigan — that do not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He said because of this, it is legal to fire someone, deny them access to a house, refuse to serve them in a business and more because of who they love.

Barr said he and a group of supporters are meeting with Greenville City Councilman Larry Moss to help draft an ordinance. Anyone from the township who may be interested is invited to join to help make a difference.

“So I am here today to ask Eureka Township to work together with the city of Greenville in drafting and adopting a nondiscrimination ordinance …” Bar said.

Christian Sowers also addressed the township board to ask for support and adopt an ordinance.

“I am more than a gay person living in Greenville,” Sowers said.

He explained his involvement in the community from work to volunteering, raising two children, his faith and having an active roll in the military and even serving overseas.

“Unfortunately, I do not have the same human rights…as many of the other Americans in our society,” Sower said. “Human rights are for all.”

Township employee Thomas Faussett asked Barr if he brought a draft for the township to consider instead of asking the township to come up with something. Barr said he is currently working to draft one and invited anyone to help them.

“So you want a joint agreement with (the township) and the city,” Clerk Linda Ruwersma asked.

Barr clarified, saying not a joint agreement, but a collaboration on working to make an ordinance.

Eureka Township Planning Commission Chairman Mark Wilkin asked the township board to consider it.

“I would pray that we look at this and really try to do something amazing,” Wilkin said. “I think it’s a great opportunity.”

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