After four-decade fight, 373,000+ residents, including those in Wayne County, finally receive long-awaited protection and recognition
LANSING, Mich. (March 17, 2023) — Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) and the Michigan Senate Democrats continue to make history and tackle longstanding policy needs, recently passing Senate Bill 4 to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to provide protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. Legislators have been working for more than four decades to see Michigan’s civil rights law explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity, and with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature yesterday, the bill officially becomes a law.
“After decades of endless advocacy from the LGBTQ+ community and other allies across Michigan, we can finally say—there is justice for all. By expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, we ensure members of the LGBTQ+ community no longer have to worry about being denied services, fired from their job, or evicted from their home because of who they love or how they identify,” said Sen. Geiss. “I am so proud to have cosponsored and voted yes on this bill. If it’s not clear already, discrimination and hate towards the LGBTQ+ community will not be tolerated in Michigan and this bill signing is a message that we will continue to fight for equity, justice, and inclusion for ALL Michiganders.”
Nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ+ Americans report having experienced discrimination in their everyday lives. Twenty-two states and more than 100 cities have adopted these common-sense, inclusive and comprehensive protections for LGBTQ+ people, and with the governor’s signature of the Senate legislation, Michigan becomes the 23rd state to adopt comprehensive non-discrimination laws.
“In these last decades, real Michiganders suffered from real acts of discrimination: denied housing and evicted, denied jobs and fired, denied services and put out of places for no other reason than their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Sen. Jeremy Moss, lead sponsor of the bill. “They were kicked out of Michigan’s economy both as workers and consumers. This left them figuratively and sometimes literally beaten, battered, and bruised for having the audacity to live their lives as they were. Had it not been for their courage to come forward to bring much-needed attention to these wrongs we could not have progressed to this moment. This bill is dedicated to them.”
Eighty-three percent of Michiganders support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people. The legislation has widespread support from a number of organizations and individuals, including the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, Corktown Health, the Detroit Police Department, medical professionals, faith leaders, spouses and parents.
A number of businesses and economic organizations have also advocated for the legislation as a way to make Michigan a more welcoming, inclusive and competitive state. BASF, DOW, the Michigan Realtors Association, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, and Business Leaders for Michigan all have endorsed the legislation.
Michigan is home to over 373,000 residents who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. According to a 2019 report from Out Leadership, Michigan received a D grade on its LGBTQ-friendly policies, scoring a sad 64.7 percent.