After four-decade fight, 373,000+ residents finally poised to receive long-awaited protection and recognition   

 LANSING, Mich. (March 1, 2023) — The Michigan Senate voted today to pass Senate Bill 4, legislation sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) that will expand the Elliott-Larsen Civils Rights Act to provide protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.

“For far too long, LGBTQ+ Michiganders could not seek justice after enduring discrimination because we were excluded from our state’s Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act. In a historic vote today, the Michigan Senate passed my bill to expand the act and liberate our community,” Sen. Moss said. “I’m running through the tape, but this baton has been passed from generation to generation of LGBTQ+ activists in Michigan – icons in our community like Jeff Montgomery, Ruth Ellis, Jim Toy, Henry Messer and many others. And now we are telling generations yet to come that they have a future.”

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 today’s vote, Michigan is another step closer to becoming 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,” Sen. Moss added. “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.”

Legislators have been working for more than four decades to see Michigan’s civil rights law explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity. However, today’s passage out of the Senate marks the farthest this issue has ever gotten in the legislative process. The House is expected to act swiftly to take up Sen. Moss’s bill.

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’s laws should be as welcoming as our state feels,” Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said. “When policies allow for discrimination against a wide segment of our population solely based on who they love or their gender identity, we aren’t accomplishing that goal. But today, under the leadership of Senator Jeremy Moss who has been a leading voice for LGBTQ+ Michiganders, we’re taking action to protect people living their authentic lives. It’s good for the safety and security of Michigan residents, it’s good for the economy, and it’s simply the right thing to do.”

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.