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Equality For Gays Could Come To Vote In Royal Oak

ROYAL OAK (WWJ) - Opponents of a controversial human rights ordinance in the city Royal Oak turned in over 1,200 petition signatures on Tuesday.

That's enough, they say, to put the measure before voters.

The ordinance, which would make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and other factors, was placed on hold last month.

Leading the fight against the new law  -- which he says promotes "a radical homosexual agenda" -- is longtime Royal Oak resident, Fred Birchard.

"This is not a Republican issue; this is not a Democratic issue. This is a freedom and a moral issue ... My moral compass tells me what's right and what's wrong -- and this was wrong," said Birchard, a grandfather of 13. "It grieves me to have to even do this kind of thing. I'm 75 years old."

Among those who voted for the ordinance is Royal Oak city commissioner and civil rights attorney Jim Rasor.

"The Michigan of 2013 is a lot different than the Michigan of 1955 -- which is where I think Fred Birchard actually lives," said Rasor. "I have faith in the voters in Royal Oak to do the right thing. And I know the right thing is creating an atmosphere of equality and acceptance in Royal Oak."

The Royal Oak city clerk's office is expected to rule on the validity of the petition signatures on Wednesday.

A number of other Michigan communities already have similar protections, including Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Birmingham and Ferndale.

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