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Letter to Editor: Royal Oak Businessman Supports Proposal A

David Assemany, owner of The Aquarium Shop, hopes Royal Oak will join its neighbors - Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods and Birmingham - and adopt a human rights ordinance.

Send Letters to the Editor to judy.davids@patch.com.
Send Letters to the Editor to judy.davids@patch.com.

The following letter was sent to Royal Oak Patch by David Assemany, owner of the The Aquarium Shop in Royal Oak:

As a long time business owner in Royal Oak, I am gratified to see the outpouring of support for a Human Rights Ordinance in our community. I am also disappointed, but not surprised, to see a mean spirited and vocal campaign against it. I would like to speak to those who are as yet unsure where they stand on this issue. Why does Royal Oak need this new law? It is simple really:  Aside from it being the fair and right thing to do, Royal Oak needs this Human Rights Ordinance because not doing so will reflect badly on our city.

You probably don’t know this, but today it is perfectly legal in Royal Oak to deny someone housing or employment simply because of who they love or what their family situation is. Presently the Federal Government prohibits discrimination for reasons of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status, disability and a number of other categories, but neither it or the State of Michigan prohibits discrimination against Gay, Lesbian or Transgender citizens.

Let me put that another way:

Right now in our city, you can be denied a job or a roof over your head because of who you are.  That’s it, no other reason necessary.  If you are Lesbian, Gay or Transgender, you can be fired or denied housing with absolutely no other justification required. 

Currently our neighbors in Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods and Birmingham have adopted this ordinance. If we fail to do so, we will be sending the message that Royal Oak is less welcoming and less inclusive than our neighboring communities. If Royal Oak allows itself to remain a city where such injustices are fully legal, we can expect that current and potential residents and customers will go elsewhere, and rightfully so.

I want my business to be in a city where my customers feel welcome and safe and where should they or my staff encounter discrimination, the tools provided for by the Human Rights Ordinance will be in place to address and remedy the situation.

Shouldn’t we all want to live and work in such a community?

David Assemany
Owner – The Aquarium Shop

THEODORE GIBSON September 26, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Vote For Proposal A for a just RO for everyone and no discrimination. Oneroyaloak.org
Shawna September 26, 2013 at 03:48 PM
If the real motivation behind this ordinance was fairness, the City Commission would have followed David Poulton's recommendation and adopted a resolution that the city, its residents, its businesses, and its visitors would treat all people fairly and without discrimination. Once we start labeling people, they are no longer equal.
THEODORE GIBSON September 26, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Vote For Proposal A for a just RO. No discrimination. oneroyaloak.org
James Willard September 26, 2013 at 06:04 PM
Proposal A, as written, also includes religion among the protected classes. Therefore, anyone who considers themselves to be a Christian in good faith should, under cover of the ordinance, be able to love thy sinner, yet hate the sin. In other words, if you consider yourself to be a practicing Christian, you should be able to deny service or housing to someone who openly commits sin. This is yet another reason why a NO vote on Proposal A is called for.
THEODORE GIBSON September 26, 2013 at 11:28 PM
@JAMES WILLARD: Are you saying I should be legally able to evict my tenants because they don't go to church on Sundays, and are therefore not keeping the Sabbath Day a Holy Day? Because that is a sin.
THEODORE GIBSON September 26, 2013 at 11:30 PM
@JAMES WILLARD: Can you share with us the list of sins that you think should be protected categories to discriminate against people for? And how long since their last openly-committed sin? Is there a statute of limitations on their sins? Because we are all sinners.
James Willard September 27, 2013 at 08:59 AM
@Theodore Gibson: You've once again failed to answer my question. I'm not advocating evicting anyone for any list of sins. I'm saying the HRO is fundamentally flawed in multiple ways. If we're to read this to the letter, every one of the 17 protected classes is equal, and has no more or less standing than the next. IF....and I am not saying this is a good thing, or that I am a Muslim......IF I WERE A MUSLIM.....According to the Koran, women are second class citizens. I, as a practicing Muslim male, by the very wording of the HRO, am free to exercise my religious beliefs to exclude women in certain circumstances.
James Willard September 27, 2013 at 09:05 AM
@Theodore Gibson: Yes, we all sin. That is what is so beautiful about what Jesus did for you and I alike. Once again, you intentionally ignore what I post, and try to take the discussion off onto a tangent. I would not dare attempt to make a list of what is sin, and what is not. I'm stating that the HRO is flawed as it is written because anyone who truly believes they are following any one of dozens of different sets of religious beliefs is no more or less entitled to their decision making than someone of any of the other protected classes.
V September 27, 2013 at 01:36 PM
Shawna, the problem with your suggestion is that such a general statement on prohibiting discrimination are not taken seriously in the US (a court would throw out a general statement like that as an overly general one). And it would not have passed muster in courts or elsewhere.
V September 27, 2013 at 01:39 PM
James, this is not how American law works. This ordinance does not give an employer permission to discriminate on the basis of religion. It, instead, talks of the right of the employee, consumer, lessee to not be discriminated against. So, this ordinance would not grant you permission to discriminate against women in employing them, lending property to them or in selling them goods and services.
V September 27, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Just realized that all you folks are part of the "Just" Royal Oak, which doesn't even have its mailbox in the city of Royal Oak. In fact, Shawna Steiner is listed as the Treasurer.
V September 27, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Well, Ronald, they're not that outside. Their POBox is located in Birmingham (I wonder why). But it's clear where their group is coming from. Their site, "Just" Royal Oak has a page called "Catholic Perspective" with quotes and pictures of advertisements from various Catholic bishops in Michigan and Ohio.
V September 27, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Funny, the pic on the accounts "Susan Sims" in Twitter and Facebook would suit more a woman twice the claimed "27". (The Susan Sims accounts following Just Royal Oak Twitter and Facebook page.)
James Willard September 27, 2013 at 05:25 PM
I'm a precinct delegate in the 19th precinct, in the Northeast corner of Royal Oak. I'm a lifelong Royal Oak resident. I see a whole bunch of complaining about outside money. The fact is, OneRoyalOak is getting a pile of money from the outside, as well as people who live in other cities going door to door in Royal Oak. Before you whine, look in the mirror.
Susan Sims September 27, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Ah, 27 year "resident". 😜
James Willard September 27, 2013 at 05:30 PM
V, you can say what you want about Federal or State law. I never claimed that my previous examples were not in violation of either Federal or State law. I stand by my assertion that they are covered, as the HRO is written, within the jurisdiction of the City of Royal Oak. Therefore, since neither Michigan or the United States can prosecute someone for discriminating against a homosexual as it currently stands, a person who happened to be a practicing Muslim could very much discriminate against a homosexual, and the City of Royal Oak would be bound to advocate for him, under the HRO. He would be protected, based on his religion.
V September 27, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Susan, my mistake. James Willard, you are incorrect. The city is not bound to "advocate" for anyone at this point. However, what the ordinance will enable the city to do is to punish - and rightfully so - the RO employer, landlord, or business that chooses to discriminate against a person on the basis of one of the characteristics. This would include punishing even a Muslim landlord, who refused to rent because the lessee is gay. And the same ordinance would, in turn, punish a gay landlord for refusing to rent to someone, because he is Muslim (or Christian or something else). I'm not sure where you're getting your ideas, but this is simply not how these laws work.
V September 27, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Susan Sims, it wasn't you I was researching, it was the organization and its various accounts. In the same vein, I just saw James Willard's comments about how being gay is a choice on Freep.com. Makes it kind of obvious where your group is coming from.
V September 27, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Then, should I expect your group take on Michigan's Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act and the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (with its Title VII)? Those laws are responsible for the general anti-discrimination laws and setting up the organizations to receive, investigate, and when necessary prosecute discriminatory acts.
V September 27, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Exactly, you won't convince me, because you are not against anti-discrimination laws in general, you are just against the ones protecting the LGBT citizens from discrimination.

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