We at The OutCenter of Southwest Michigan are so grateful to hear of the local efforts to pass non-discrimination ordinances (NDOs) throughout southwest Michigan! Whether an NDO passes or fails, any attempt to create a more equitable, safe, and even brave community is a great step forward for all people. According to MAP, only 31% of LGBTQ+ Michiganders are protected in private employment, housing, and/or public accommodations.

Congratulations to Three Oaks on passing their NDO on July 14th! The town joins Saint Joseph, the seat of Berrien County, and Buchanan in protecting all citizens from discrimination and harassment in their town. 

And while we are grateful for Three Oak’s progress, we are sad to hear about the news from Chikaming Township about not taking up the cause of an NDO, despite the supportive statements from constituents. To those leaders and community members who led this initiative, we thank you for fighting for not only the LGBTQ+ community, but the whole community!

Your work and dedication to protecting your LGBTQ+ neighbors not only helps protect LGBTQ+ people, but creates a greater sense of community, engagement, and safety for people of all ages. Even though we expect the Michigan Supreme Court to decide favorably for the LGBTQ+ community post-hearing the upcoming Rouch World v. Michigan Department of Civil Rights on the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (in October), nothing is more powerful in small towns and rural areas than local conversations – changing hearts and minds and policies.

For those wanting their town to become truly inclusive of LGBTQ+ people and their families, please know you do not have to go through this process of change-making alone. The OutCenter of Southwest Michigan is dedicated to making progress for the LGBTQ+ community throughout Berrien, Van Buren, and Cass counties. We will gladly leverage our many years of experience in political engagement and systems change initiatives to assist you in the process of developing and implementing an inclusive NDO in your town. 

Our mission is to provide support and advocacy for respect, understanding, and non-discrimination to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied persons and their families in Southwest Michigan. In 2020, we promoted or helped modify 422 LGBTQ+ inclusive policies & practices across Van Buren, Berrien, and Cass counties and organized 76 partner organizations to provide more robust and appropriate responses to LGBTQ+ inquires. 

If you are interested in making progress in your hometown and joining the more than 40 towns protecting the LGBTQ+ community across Michigan, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@outcenter.org and we will be happy to help! 

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