The Human Relations Commission of Holland, Michigan, awarded a local group called “Holland is Ready” for leading a failed campaign to outlaw discrimination in housing and employment. The commission recommended that city council adopt the ordinance after a year of studying the issue.
Al Serrano, Holland’s Human Relations Coordinator, said the award is for the group’s ongoing efforts to educate the community about a divisive issue in a non-confrontational way.
A community organization in Holland has accepted an award from the city after unsuccessfully lobbying for an anti-discrimination law there.
Holland Is Ready formed in early 2010 after Hope College stopped an openly gay filmmaker from discussing his movie on campus. The group also helped lead a campaign to outlaw discrimination in housing and employment for people who are gay or transgender. In June the Holland City Council rejected the ordinance in a 5 to 4 vote.
Reverend Jen Adams accepted Holland’s social justice award Wednesday night on the group’s behalf. She also noted the irony of the award coming from the same city that rejected its request.
“We might in fact be the only group ever who in one six month time period were first denied the rights we requested and were then celebrated by the city for our efforts in seeking those rights,” Adams laughed. Dozens of people joined her in the audience; all including Adams wearing new white sweatshirts with the Holland Is Ready logo.
“We smile not only because there is a little humor here and that’s okay and good, but we smile also because there is hope here,” Adams said. “That’s the message that we want to send.”