LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A divided Lansing City Council approved an ordinance to re-zone to parcels on Kalamazoo St. Monday night.
The re-zoning and a resolution for a special land use permit paves the way for the Lansing City Rescue Mission to redevelop properties on Kalamazoo St. to expand its housing services for homeless people.
The vote was five in favor and two opposed. Councilmembers Ryan Kost and Brian Jackson cast no votes on both the ordinance and the special land use permit.
The vote comes after a month of controversy about the Mission’s doctrinal statement of faith. The statement prohibits employees and board members from being involved in, among other things, homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender.
The council asked the City Attorney to determine if the agency’s refusal to hire people who do not sign the doctrinal form violated the city’s human rights ordinance. The City Attorney’s Office determined there was no violation, leading some on the council to announce it was time to revisit the ordinance to tighten the ministerial exception.
The meeting Monday night had citizens speaking out against the alleged discrimination by the Mission against LGBTQ people. Mark Criss, executive director of the Mission, told the Council the organization does not discriminate in housing or providing services to members of the LGBTQ community.
Those concerns however have given rise to a conversation about a possible local ban on conversation therapy. Conversion therapy is a controversial counseling system that claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been banned on a state level, but Kost, who represents the city’s eastside or the First Ward, tells 6 News another member of the council has already begun exploring an ordinance to ban the controversial practice.