Lansing city council members raise concerns over LGBTQ+ discrimination allegations at City Rescue Mission
Some members of the Lansing City Council say they’re concerned the City Rescue Mission may be discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community. At issue is a statement that staff and board members are required to sign to work at the Mission. The faith statement says, in part, the only legitimate marriage is between one man and one woman and that people who are homosexual or transgender will be removed from service immediately
The issue came up as the City Rescue Mission has requested re-zoning to open a homeless shelter.
Ryan Kost, council member representing ward 3, brought up the concerns during the meeting.
“Before we even look at this [rezoning] is that a violation of the Lansing Human Rights Ordinance?” he asked.
Lansing’s Human Rights Ordinance prohibits discrimination or harassment based on “irrelevant human characteristics” and discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations or service.
Council member Patricia Spitzley, the chair of the Development and Planning Committee, echoed Kosts’ concerns.
“But I can't take that in consideration when I am looking at whether or not this is an appropriate rezone,” she said during the meeting.
During the meeting, several community members shared their opinions on the statement.
Gabriel Biber, the executive director of Haven House, said she’s witnessed the City Rescue Mission take strides to lower their barriers of entry.
“They've stepped up, they've provided really quality services, and some services that none of the rest of us are providing,” she said. “When it's the middle of the night, and none of the other shelters can take someone -- City Rescue Mission takes them and that's regardless of faith, or gender or other types of identity.”
Lansing resident and City Rescue Mission employee Jessica Carroll said she was once homeless and received excellent care at the City Rescue Mission.
“I remember walking in the door and seeing a smiling face every day and somebody to remember my name made me feel special and made it a happier time in my life,” she said. “They set me up with counseling and health care and resources to get sober.”
In a text message Mark Criss, director of the City Rescue Mission, said the organization is fully inclusive and provides equal service to all guests.
“We are fully inclusive and provide equal services to all guests,” he wrote. “They enable us to serve in mighty and impactful ways for 112 years.”
The rezoning proposal was sent back to the Development and Planning Committee and is expected to receive a final decision from the council later this month.