In 2018 the Michigan Department of Civil Rights reported 44 cases of discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
However, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act introduced in the state in 1976 doesn’t protect LGBTQ people. The listed categories that are protected from discrimination are religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, family status, and marital status.
Therefore, as you can see, there is no protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
A group of leaders, politicians, and philanthropists have launched an unprecedented initiative to extend these protections against discrimination to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer residents.
The proposed legislation would expand the definition of protection based on “sex” in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to address discrimination in housing, public housing, and employment.
“We just want to be judged on the job we do — know who we are or who we love — and we want to be treated equally in the eyes of the government,” said Trevor Thomas, a co-chair of the new Fair and Equal Michigan ballot committee and board chair for Equality Michigan Action.
The resulting initiative to ensure that LGBTQ people are no longer discriminated against will need to collect the necessary number of signatures - 340,047 - to be part of the November 2020 ballot. The collection will also have to be done within 180 days.
If successful, Michigan legislators will have 40 days to either approve the bill or send it to the ballot where it will be voted on by voters.
Lee Chatfield, the speaker of the House of Representatives which is controlled by the Republicans, has already expressed his opposition to the bill. He seems to be worried about “religious freedom”.
“I do not believe we can pass this law while still protecting religious freedom,” Chatfield said last year on WKAR-TV’s ‘Off The Record’.
“You’ve seen these laws passed in other states where what happens, in my opinion, is reverse discrimination against those who have religious beliefs.”
Nevertheless, as of today, 21 states already provide protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ people; plus Wisconsin, which explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity at the moment.
“Advancing the fair treatment of all people - regardless of their race, religion, disability, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity - is a key component of retaining and growing a world-class, talented workforce,” Patti Poppe said in a statement.
“To stay competitive in today’s economy, we need to be bold in our efforts to make our communities more welcoming to all. And efforts to expand Elliott-Larsen is also the right thing to do for our companies, our customers and Michigan.”
Now you know what you have to do in Michigan, don’t wait to sign the petition and spread the word.