In the early morning hours of Feb. 8, 2017, the Jackson City Council passed the LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO) after a six hour marathon council meeting. It was the protection that many in Jackson’s queer community had been advocating for nearly 20 years, and some had been opposing for just as long. Five years later, the City of Jackson and Jackson Pride Center are coming together for a LGBTQ Forum that recognizes the fifth anniversary of the NDO.
On Monday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m., residents are welcome to attend the forum in the City Council Chambers of Jackson City Hall or watch live-streams of the event on Comcast Cable Channel 21, the City Facebook page and City website. Hosted by City Public Information Officer Aaron Dimick, the forum will feature a panel of local LGBTQ residents reflecting on the NDO’s passage, queer issues in Jackson, and what changes they’d like to see moving forward.
The ordinance makes it a civil infraction to discriminate against someone for housing, employment or public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. John Willis, the City’s Chief Equity Officer, says it’s important to mark this anniversary. “The passage of the NDO did a lot to further equity in our City government,” Willis said. “It’s important to hear from our LGBTQ community about how we can improve Jackson for everyone.”
The Jackson Pride Center was founded around the time of the ordinance’s passage. “We still have a ways to go to ensure that there are no barriers for our LGBTQ community to receive full access to jobs, housing, and inclusion in our society, but the NDO is a huge step forward,” said Jackson Pride Center Board Chair Russ Desy. “We need events and opportunities that continue to raise issues and awareness. We are so grateful that the City continues to push forward.”
There is currently a mask requirement at Jackson City Hall, which is located at 161 W. Michigan Ave. Those who would like to attend remotely can watch a live-stream of the event on Comcast Cable Channel 21, the City Facebook page and City website.