(7) 1 S. Huron St. – City Hall – Ypsilanti Citizens for Community

Ypsilanti Citizens for Community (YC4C) was an activist group fighting for equal rights among all citizens in the greater Ypsilanti area during the mid 1990s. A dispute between Tri-Pride, an Eastern Michigan University student group, and what was formerly known as Hansen’s Standard Printing arose when the company refused printing services to Tri-Pride. The then-owners of Hansen’s did not feel their religious beliefs aligned with the mission of Tri-Pride to support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. The Campaign for Equality was launched when the Ypsilanti Human Relations Commission decided unanimously to take no action regarding the dispute. Women such as Kathleen Russell, Beth Bashert and Lisa Bashert worked alongside other members of YC4C and the Campaign for Equality to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance in 1997. Lisa justified the ordinance by stating that YC4C “would not support an ordinance that would infringe on anyone’s constitutional rights, as long as our rights also are protected.”[1]

YC4C

“There Oughta Be a Law Against Discrimination in Ypsilanti.” Citizens for Community. “Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006.” Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Kathleen Russell was the Tri-Pride faculty advisor and worked alongside Beth Bashert, co-chair of YC4C.  The campaign widely gained support for the non-discrimination ordinance in writing from the Ypsilanti/Willow Run NAACP Branch and the Interfaith Resources for Human Rights (a task force of the American Friends Service Committee) which included the support of numerous religious groups (Fig 3, 4).

 On June 28th, 1997 YC4C officially asked City Council to enact an anti-discrimination ordinance stating that,

            “Ypsilanti Citizens For Community, an organization representing over 60 Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, as well as their friends, neighbors, and supporters in the Ypsilanti Community, is calling for swift City Council action to draft a comprehensive anti- discrimination ordinance which would protect residents and visitors from acts of discrimination.”[2]

YC4C 2

“There Oughta Be a Law Against Discrimination in Ypsilanti.” Citizens for Community. “Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006.” Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

On July 1, 1997 YC4C’s hard work temporarily paid off when Ypsilanti City Council voted unanimously to draft an anti-discrimination ordinance.  The ordinance,

“Will strengthen protection for all groups included in the ordinance (minorities, women,    religious preference, the disabled, etc.).  When the rights of any are threatened, all are threatened.”[3]

YC4C 3

“NAACP Resolution.” To secure legislation banning discrimination and segregation. “Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006.” Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Those against the anti-discrimination ordinance worked to overturn it through a ballot referendum.  The issue was first on the ballot in 1998 and again in 2001.  However Beth, along with YC4C members continued the campaign for equality and defeated the anti-gay proposals against the anti-discrimination ordinance.

Important women in the YC4C:

Kathleen Russell: In addition to being the Tri-Pride faculty advisor, Kathleen Russell was the Assistant Dean of Students at EMU and provided continual support for GLBT youth organizations.  When the issue between Tri-Pride and Hansen’s Standard Printing first arose, Kathleen conducted the initial brainstorm of what YC4C needed to do to have the non-discrimination ordinance passed. Her list included, seeking allies, contacting the media, increase voter registration among the Ypsilanti community and EMU students, set up information tables, and begin fundraising.[1]  All of these steps were put into action by YC4C and helped to pass the non-discrimination ordinance.  Kathleen has since continued to make an influence in GLBT rights with in Ypsilanti and the EMU community by organizing an educational outreach program call ProjectYES and helping with the Ruth Ellis Center, which supports homeless GLBT youth.

 Beth Bashert: In addition to being the co-chair of the Ypsilanti Citizens For Community, Beth Bashert supports the local GLBT community, local civil rights and various political causes.  After successfully campaigning for YC4C, Beth focused her energy on statewide and even national equality issues.  She was the founding president of Michigan Equality (ME) and worked with cities all across Michigan to pass city ordinances that protected people from discrimination against their sexual orientation.

 Beth has also been active with the preservation of land by campaigning for Save Our Land, Save Our Future (SOLSOF), which helps farmers protect their land when it becomes threatened by development.

 Lisa Marshall Bashert: Lisa worked alongside her life-partner, Beth Bashert, in the organization YC4C and was an active member during the Campaign for Equality.  She is an activist for gay-lesbian equality on both a local and state level in Michigan

Bibliography
“Beth Bashert Papers, 1988-2003.” Oct. 2004. Finding aid at the Michigan Historical Collection Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, MI.: University of Michigan.     http://quod.lib.umich.edu/b/bhlead/umich-bhl-04105?

 “Email correspondence between Kathleen Russell and C4C membership, June 06, 1997.” Potential Mission Statement and some thoughts. Please feel free to edit. “Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006.” Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library,      University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

 “For Immediate Release, News Release, April 25, 1997.” Press Releases Authorized by Citizens   for Community in Chronological Order. “Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006.”  Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann        Arbor, MI.

 “Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006.” 2009. Finding aid at the Michigan Historical Collection    Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, MI.: University of Michigan. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/b/bhlead/umich-bhl-2009149?

 “Lisa Marshall Bashert Papers, 1971-2010.” 2005. Finding aid at the Michigan Historical Collection Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, MI.: University of Michigan.  http://quod.lib.umich.edu/b/bhlead/umich-bhl-0526?

 “NAACP Resolution.” To secure legislation banning discrimination and segregation. “Kathleen    Russell Papers, 1997-2006.” Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library,  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

 “There Oughta Be a Law Against Discrimination in Ypsilanti.” Citizens for Community.   “Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006.” Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

 “To The Editor, News Release.” Press Releases Authorized by Citizens for Community in Chronological Order. “Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006.” Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

 “Ypsilanti Citizen Group Asks City Council to Enact Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, News Release, June 28, 1997.” Press Releases Authorized by Citizens for Community in     Chronological Order. “Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006.” Michigan Historical        Collection, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

“Ypsilanti Leaders of Faith Speak Out.” Official Statement by Religious Organizations.    “Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006.” Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.


            [1] “Email correspondence between Kathleen Russell and C4C membership, June 06, 1997.”  Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006. (Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library) 2.


            [1] “For Immediate Release, News Release, April 25, 1997.” Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006. (Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library) 1.

            [2] “Ypsilanti Citizen Group asks City Council to Enact Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, News Release, June 28, 1997.” Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006. (Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library) 1.

            [3]  “To The Editor, News Release.” Kathleen Russell Papers, 1997-2006. (Michigan Historical Collection, Bentley Historical Library) 1.

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