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Whitmer to call for expanding civil rights law to include LGBTQ protections

Office of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to formally throw her support behind legislation to add LGBTQ protections to Michigan’s civil rights law on Monday.

Historically, votes on similar bills have been blocked by GOP leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) is opposed. Another Republican State Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) said Friday on Michigan Public Television that he also has questions on protecting religious rights.

“Obviously this is something that requires a lot of balance," said Runestad. "You have a balance between the rights of individuals to operate the way they would in terms of their religious beliefs and the rights of individuals not to be discriminated against. I’d have to see what that bill looks like."

Democratic Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) said the bill would clear the Legislature if it were put to a vote or if a petition drive succeeds in getting the question on the ballot next year.

"We are going to get to a place either by legislation or by a public vote to enshrine LGBT protections into state law," said Moss. He said the public already supports expanding anti-discrimination protections.

"The Legislature is what’s behind, so we really have to double down and make the case legislator by legislator by legislator because by and large public support for this is there," said Moss.

A petition drive has also turned in signatures for a citizen-initiated law that could either be adopted by the Legislature or go on the 2022 ballot. The state’s in the process of counting and validating the names.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.