Holland boycott movement reaches 1,200 Facebook supporters

6:12 PM, Jun 23, 2011   |    comments
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HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- The fallout from Holland's gay rights no-vote continues.

Last week, Holland City Council defeated a proposal that would add sexual orientation to the city's civil rights policy. The proposed amendment was brought to the city council to protect gay citizens against discrimination. The proposal was defeated in a 5-to-4 split decision.

Since then, a Facebook group called "I'm Boycotting Holland Until Love is =" sprung up as a reaction to the vote with a handful of members. Over the last week, that handful has grown to 1,200 people.

"I have not spent money in the City of Holland for years," said LGBT West Michigan Network's Drew Stopples, who has been appointed the group's spokesperson. "Someone has to do it. I'm willing to put my neck on the line."

Stopples is openly gay and an LGBT activist for greater West Michigan. He says the group was formed and is lead by 'a straight guy' who was sick of seeing his gay friends and family being treated like second class citizens in Holland.

Their objective is enough attention to generate a re-vote by damaging the city's business and tourism with as many people as they can get to boycott.

"To cutoff a city if you will, In terms of economics, visiting, dollars and cents... It's something that works. Money talks," he said. "It's bad for business. We're coming at it from an economic standpoint."

WZZM 13 News spoke to several business owners in Holland who are condemning the movement while others understand where the group is coming from.

Globe Vision owner Bob Schulze falls under both categories. He supports the group's sentiment but has disagreements with their methods.

"It's a knee-jerk reaction," Schulze said. "I'm not that upset and I'm really not that nervous," he said. "I think they will see that they probably don't want to hurt the businesses that are for the issue."

A separate group of Holland citizens who originally brought the issue to city council are fighting to get gay rights back on the ballot. So far, nothing has been announced for the fall ballot. They would have to collect 1,310 signatures by August 16th.

By Steve Patterson

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