A Rochester Hills man is expected tonight to ask city leaders to help him oppose a law proposed by the city's state representative — a law he says would "roll back civil rights."
Tim Maurer has been working to urge Rochester Hills leaders to oppose House Bill 5039, a measure proposed in October by state Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills). The bill would prohibit municipalities from extending special rights to those not covered by the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976.
The Elliott-Larsen Act protects people on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, weight, height, familial or marital status. But it does not offer protection on the basis of sexual orientation.
Many municipalities have approved their own ordinances that extend the act's protections. This House bill would take away the ability of municipalities to enact such ordinances.
Maurer admits he may be an unlikely critic of the bill.
"People may look at me and say, 'You're a straight white male with a wife and two kids living in Rochester Hills,'" he said. "But I know some gay and lesbian people in this town. To me, the bill says to them 'Rochester Hills is no place for you.' "
Maurer has always been interested in politics and grew up in a family in which voting was a priority and being interested in politics was a civic duty.
"I never thought an elected official in Michigan would attempt to roll back civil rights," he said.
House Bill 5039 is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. There has been no action on the bill since it was offered by McMillin in October. It is not on the immediate agenda of any committee meetings.
McMillin has defended the bill as making civil rights protections uniform at a state level.
“I’ve been somewhat active throughout the years in trying to stop some of these special-rights ordinances for homosexual behavior, and noticed they’re often used to discriminate against Christians,” McMillin said, according to a report on CitizenLink.com, an affiliate of Focus on the Family.
“Under 5039, the municipalities have to abide by what the state calls a protected class. This merely says the debate should be at the state level. We can’t have a patchwork of protected classes (that means) depending on which side of the street you live on, businesses have to operate differently.”
Maurer planned to attend tonight's Rochester Hills City Council meeting to urge councilmembers to adopt a resolution in opposition to House Bill 5039.
"Rolling back civil rights isn't Rochester Hills," he said. "We're too educated for that. We have future state leaders sitting at that table."
The resolution, which Maurer helped draft, reads as follows:
WHEREAS, the diversity of our community makes Rochester Hills a great place to live, work, and raise a family; and
WHEREAS, the City of Rochester Hills recognizes that respect for diversity is a vital component of successful economic development and talent retention; and
WHEREAS, Article VII, Section 22 of the Michigan Constitution guarantees each city and village the “power to adopt resolutions and ordinances relating to its municipal concerns”; and
WHEREAS, the State has no legitimate interest in restricting the ability of local units of government to adopt anti-discrimination ordinances that reflect the values and unique circumstances of our communities and opposes House Bill 5039 and urges the Michigan Legislature to defeat this legislation.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to State Representative Tom McMillin, State Senator Jim Marleau and the members of the State House Judiciary Committee.
The Rochester Hills City Council meets at 7 tonight at the . The resolution is not on the agenda. Maurer said he will speak about it during the public comment section of the meeting.
McMillin will hold in-district office hours in the building 4-6 p.m.