Legislation Introduced to Update Michigan’s Civil Rights Law

Bills would protect LGBT residents from discrimination
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

LANSING – State Representatives Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), Adam F. Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) and Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), along with all members of the Democratic Caucus and an independent, introduced legislation today that would amend the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Introduction of this bill comes as public support for including such protections continues to grow.

“Amending the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include the LGBT citizens of this state is decades in the making and long overdue,” said Singh. “Including the LGBT community in existing civil rights law will offer protections in areas such as employment, housing and public accommodation. As we continue to recruit talent and business to our state, we must show that Michigan values and protects all of our citizens from discrimination.”

The bill adds the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the existing classes of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status and marital status currently protected by law. The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act was passed in 1976. Attempts to amend Elliott-Larsen to include sexual orientation first begin in 1983. Currently, 36 local governments in Michigan have passed nondiscrimination ordinances that include protections for the LGBT community.

“Even with the advances recently made by the LGBT community, we know that many of these citizens still face discrimination,” said Zemke. “We can no longer tolerate this injustice. Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to our civil rights laws is a matter of fairness and of equal treatment.”

Irwin added, “Everyone deserves equal protection under the law. A person’s civil rights shouldn’t depend on where they live in Michigan. There is broad public support for these protections, and it’s time for leaders of both political parties to work together and take a stand against discrimination.”