Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Royal Oak Human Rights Ordinance on the Ballot

In the Fall, Royal Oak voters will decide the fate of a human rights ordinance that prohibits discrimination against LGBT individuals, pregnant women, people of color and other groups. The ordinance's protections, available as a PDF online here, include “race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, condition of pregnancy, marital status, physical or mental limitation, source of income, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.” The ordinance will be officially titled Proposal A in the Nov. 5th election.

According to the Daily Tribune, a “similar local law was enacted by the Pleasant Ridge City Commission” in April “with no fanfare.” A relatively small but vocal portion of Royal Oak residents, on the other hand, have shown strong opposition to the ordinance, which is why it will be on the ballot. In April, Fred Birchard, a resident of Royal Oak “who campaigned to block a similar ordinance in 2001,” collected over 1,200 signatures to stop the ordinance from passing without a citywide vote, reported the Free Press.

Still, the 1,200 in opposition to the human rights measure make up a small fraction of Royal Oak's population of over 58,000. Royal Oak's commissioners, after all, reportedly passed the ordinance 6 to 1. Some opponents appear to be misinterpreting the ordinance's language and publicizing it – even state lawmakers. Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills recently told The Detroit News that he opposes the ordinance because it would give transgender people the right to use the bathroom that complies with their gender identities. This disregarded the presence of the exception specifically addressing bathroom use in section 10 of the ordinance.

Judging by this comment and others, awareness of the issue at hand may prove important to the passage of the ordinance this November. An organization called One Royal Oak is spearheading a campaign to support the ordinance. Want to get involved or provide resources? You can get in touch with the campaign manager at

Kai Niezgoda, Now Intern

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Show Your Support for Gender Equality – Join us on June 30th

Who: Oakland/Macomb County NOW, our family, our friends and our allies.

What: Oakland/Macomb County NOW is hosting a picnic/fundraiser and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique.

  • Lunch and refreshments
  • 50/50 raffle
  • Live music
  • Contests and prizes
When: June 30 at 2 p.m.

Where: Veterans Park in Warren
27400 Campbell
Warren, MI 48093

Why: NOW will utilize resources to fund future events and public education, with a focus on violence against women as a men's issue. We will hold a vendor booth at the National Organization for Men Against Sexism in May, and Equal Pay Day events at the Capitol.

Entry fee: $20

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mississippi Supreme Court Soon to Rule on Buckhalter Case

In another attempt to incriminate women and regulate their reproductive capacities, the Mississippi Supreme Court may be setting the stage to prosecute women who miscarry or give birth to stillborn infants. According to Mother Jones, the court will soon rule on a case involving Nina Buckhalter, a woman who gave birth to a stillborn infant. Buckhalter has already been accused by a grand jury in Lamar County of “killing” the infant by culpable negligence.”

The Mississippi Supreme Court, which overheard the case on April 2nd, will rule on the case in the near future. If Buckhalter is convicted, the case could set an incredibly dangerous precedent for future instances of miscarriage and stillbirth, as well as access to abortion care and contraception. If anti-choice activists have their way, they will restrict women's choices by giving fetuses the status of "full personhood." Mississippi state code reflects this notion, defining a human being as "an unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth."

Prosecutors are hoping Buckhalter is convicted, although allegedly, the law was never intended to affect women in circumstances like hers. If the court does not rule in her favor, what will be next? Will we jail women for smoking when pregnant? Consuming too much caffeine? Not taking prenatal vitamins? If all goes well, the court will draw the line in this case, instead of pushing it back.

Kai Niezgoda, NOW Intern