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LGBTQ Caucus Introduces Amendment to MI Civil Rights Law

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission currently considers LGBTQ people a protected class, but a new amendment would enshrine those protections in state law. (Arashdeep/Morguefile)
The Michigan Civil Rights Commission currently considers LGBTQ people a protected class, but a new amendment would enshrine those protections in state law. (Arashdeep/Morguefile)
June 5, 2019

LANSING, Mich. - LGBTQ lawmakers and their supporters have introduced an amendment to the state's Civil Rights Act to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in Michigan.

The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, passed in 1976, makes it illegal to discriminate in matters of housing, public accommodation, and employment based on religion, race, color, national origin, sex, marital status, age, height, weight or family status.

Sam Inglot, public-affairs director for the group Progress Michigan, said LGBTQ Michiganders also should have legal recourse if they experience discrimination.

"To extend civil-rights protections to the community will go a long way in holding people accountable and making sure that folks are able to live full lives, true to who they are," he said.

The proposal would give LGBTQ people a legal remedy when making a complaint to the state Civil Rights Commission. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her support for the amendment, even as Republican leaders in both the House and Senate indicated they do not plan to move this legislation. Similar bills have failed almost a dozen times in Michigan.

Inglot said he believes changing the law would prove to be a financial boon for Michigan as the state tries to attract new businesses.

"For Michigan to be competitive, to attract families and businesses that want to put down roots here," he said, "amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to make Michigan a more welcoming, equitable place would go a long way in helping our state move forward."

Currently, 20 states have added protections in state law for their LGBTQ residents. In January, Whitmer issued an executive order extending such protections to state employees and contractors.

The text of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is online at michigan.gov, and Whitmer's executive order is at content.govdelivery.com.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MI