Michigan governor signs LGBTQ protections into law
Map of Michigan – Photo: Pavel Kapysh, via Dreamstime; Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer – Photo: Office of the Governor.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a law into effect protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, employment, education, and public accommodations.
On Thursday, Whitmer signed Senate Bill 4, introduced by State Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), which expands the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include LGBTQ people, banning cases of discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
“Michigan is a state where we stand up for people’s basic freedoms,” Whitmer said at a bill signing ceremony where she hailed the measure as a symbol of a “new day” for the state’s LGBTQ residents, reports the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m so proud to be here and I’m thrilled to put our state on the right side of history,” added Whitmer, who advocated for such legislation when she served in the legislature from 2006 to 2015.
Moss noted that equality advocates have spent the better part of five decades advocating for an expansion of civil rights protections, only to see those efforts thwarted in Lansing.
That was partly due to the reluctance of Republicans — who controlled the legislature for 40 years before November — to embrace the cause of LGBTQ equality for fear of offending religious and socially conservative voters.
“The baton has been passed from generation to generation,” Moss said. “This moment has been long awaited, and too many people have suffered on the journey to get here. For them and for us, this day has finally come. Equal protection under the law.
While courts have previously found that the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act already protects LGBTQ people from discrimination, the new law explicitly cements those protections in law.
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It provides clarification to local elected officials, businesses and the state Civil Rights Commission, the latter of which deals with law enforcement and investigates complaints of discrimination.
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The Civil Rights Commission ruled in 2018 that LGBTQ people were protected by the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, but the ruling angered conservatives, who accused unelected commissioners of circumventing the legislature and overstepping their power.
In 2020, Michigan’s Court of Claims found that the law’s prohibitions against discrimination based on “sex” — even before the passage of SB 4 — prohibited discrimination based on gender identity, while the Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled last year that the law prohibits discrimination. on the basis of sexual orientation.
LGBTQ advocates celebrated the signing of the law.
“On behalf of our community, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Governor and all of Michigan’s elected officials for standing up for what’s right and never backing down from a bully,” said Erin Knott, executive director of Equality Michigan. .
The Trevor Project, the leading national suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ people, called the new law a “beacon of hope” that “sends a powerful message of acceptance to LGBTQ people in across the country”.
“At The Trevor Project, we work every day to protect the lives of young LGBTQ people, and days like today prove that in generations to come, their legal and lived equality will no longer be a matter of political debate,” said Troy Stevenson, director. state advocacy campaigns for the Trevor Project, said in a statement. “We commend elected leaders, advocates and Governor Whitmer for making this a reality and for affirming the dignity and rights of LGBTQ Michiganders by codifying these protections into law.”