Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ypsilanti City Council approves a resolution to fly a trans pride flag on the city pole

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 8:38 PM

Shoshanna Ruth Wechter, a queer rights advocate in Ypsilanti who helped push for the city to fly the trans pride flag. - AMBER FELLOW
  • Amber Fellow
  • Shoshanna Ruth Wechter, a queer rights advocate in Ypsilanti who helped push for the city to fly the trans pride flag.

The city of Ypsilanti is showing its trans pride.

At its March 21 meeting, the Ypsilanti City Council unanimously approved a resolution to fly the trans pride flag on March 31, the Transgender Day of Visibility. It will be up on the city-owned pole at the Ypsilanti Police Department.

In its resolution, the city notes that anti-LGBT discrimination "exists and is significant," and has a direct economic impact on Ypsilanti. The resolution continues by contending that "discrimination impedes the city of Ypsilanti and the state of Michigan’s ability to attract and retain talented, hard working, determined people, and, by extension, economic growth and prosperity."

And, of course, beyond the economic impact, discrimination based on gender, sexual preference, or anything else is awful.

Council Member Beth Bashert, who has led campaigns for LGBT rights in Ypsilanti over the span of several decades, tells MT that the national political climate makes it "more important than ever to proclaim the values of our city."

"These values include diversity and equality for all," she says. "This includes immigrants, LGBT people, people of every color, gender, and physical ability. By flying the transgender flag, passing our 'do not ask' immigration ordinance, and every other small act that we can do, we proclaim our resistance to the negative environment being created at the national level."

Shoshanna Ruth Wechter, a transgender woman who works for the Ypsilanti District Library and is an advocate for queer rights, tells MT the move is "an important step that the city can take to providing a supportive environment for transgender and other queer people." She notes that the city also recently added gender identity and expression into its nondiscrimination ordinance.

"Following the recent inclusion of gender identity and expression, as well as immigration status, in the city's nondiscrimination ordinance, this echoes a similar sentiment, but on a more visible level," Wechter says. "I would love to see more action taken by the city, especially around public accommodations for transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people (like gender inclusive bathrooms), in the future."

Mayor Amanda Edmonds did not respond to a request for comment.

For decades, Ypsilanti has supported progressive social causes, either through symbolic proclamations or changes to local ordinances. Most recently, it directed its police department not to question residents over citizenship. In 2015, Ypsilanti joined an amicus brief in support of two Michigan women challenging the state's ban on gay marriage.

In 1998, Ypsilanti and 10 other municipalities nationwide passed a non-discrimination ordinance that was challenged via referendum by a group opposed to it. Ypsilanti residents upheld the ordinance by 12 points, one of only two in the nation that survived a referendum.

In 2002, the Tom Monaghan-led American Family Association worked to get language inserted into the city charter that said no protections would be provided to anyone who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Voters defeated that measure by 26 points.

In August 2013, council approved extending benefits to domestic partners, though not same-sex partners specifically.

And in October, Bashert publicly expressed her disappointment with Eastern Michigan University for inviting a Chic-fil-A to open on campus.




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