Democratic lawmakers and Governor Gretchen Whitmer say it’s time to expand protections for Michigan’s LGBTQ people.
Some lawmakers have been trying for decades to expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. New bills would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in the act. That would mean that people could not be denied housing or fired simply because they are LGBTQ.
Supporters say they think this will be the year the protections cross the finish line. Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) said LGBTQ people now have a friend in the governor’s office and more Republicans are on board with the proposal than before.
Jeynce Poindexter is a transgender advocate at Equality Michigan and calls herself a “proud trans woman of color.” She spoke at a press conference ahead of the introduction of the bills.
“I thank you for including me, I thank you for being intentional about supporting the work that we do and supporting me because my life depends on it,” she said.
Last year the state’s Civil Rights commission announced that its interpretation of the law includes LGBTQ protections. However, Representative Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) says that’s not enough.
“We need to make sure that we put pen to paper,” he said. “That we put our values into the laws of Michigan so there is never a question about, ‘will I have protection’.”
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has a history of opposing the expansion without protections for religious freedom in the Constitution, but he said he will let the Legislative process play out.