Forty-two years after the state’s revolutionary civil rights bill passed, lawmakers are calling for amendments to include the LGBTQ community.
The amendments were introduced Tuesday morning at a press conference and would add the LGTBQ community to the list of protected people when it comes to employment, housing and other state accommodations.
“It is not just the right thing to do,” says Governor Gretchen Whitmer, “But that should be good enough.”
The Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act has protected Michiganders from discrimination based on race, age, origin or gender among many other factors since 1977. One group never protected were the LGBTQ community.
“In the year 2019, nobody should be fired from their job or evicted from their home based on who they love and how they identify,” says Whitmer.
Local communities have made such protections but Michigan has never had anything statewide.
“We have this piecemeal approach where you go in one city and be protected,” says Senator Jeremy Moss of Southfield, the only openly gay Senator, “and then leave the borders of it and be open to discrimination.”
Whitmer joined the LGBTQ Caucus and many other senators in support of the bills.
“When we make this the state that respects and protects under the law we make this a more competitive state,” Whitmer says.
Currently, there are 20 other states that have protections against discrimination and even more or discussing similar plans to make it a law.
“I am hopeful that I am back here in the very near future signing this bill into law,” says Whitmer.
Republicans have pushed back on similar amendments and bills in the past, saying the language should include religious exemptions. While many still see it as a sticking point, the room today felt optimistic they now had the support.
“At a moment where we are seeing a lot of movement and bipartisan cooperation this is at the top of the agenda,” says Representative Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo, a member of the LGBTQ caucus.
“This is not about party,” says transgender advocate Jeynce Poindexter, “It’s about people. Once politics remembers people it’ll be better for all of us.”