As Anti-LGBTQ Opponents Look to Roll Back Michigan Momentum, City Council Adds LGBTQ Protections

By Adam Polaski • June 12, 2018 • 1:42 pm

It’s been a big summer so far for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in Michigan: In May the Michigan Civil Rights Commission voted 5-0-1 in favor of adopting Interpretive Statement 2018-1, which declares that “discrimination because of…sex” includes discrimination because of gender identity and discrimination because of sexual orientation. The movement comes after a sustained campaign from Equality Michigan and other state and national partners, including Freedom for All Americans.

Now, however, opponents of LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections are urging state lawmakers to blog this step forward. Last week members of the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate filed a letter with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, pressuring him to speak out against the Civil Rights Commission’s interpretation and decision to start taking complaints of anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

In October 2017, Equality Michigan coordinated a joint letter from 27 attorneys, law professors and former members of the Civil Rights Commission explaining that the Commission had full authority to issue an LGBTQ-affirming interpretive statement.

Despite the attempt to backpedal by some opponents of equal treatment, other Michiganders are seeing the Civil Rights Commission’s step forward as a green light to take matters of anti-LGBTQ discrimination seriously. On Monday the Novi City Council voted in favor of updating its local ordinance prohibiting discrimination.

Councilwoman Kelly Breen said this week:

“I was looking over some internal city documents and wondered why we didn’t offer similar protections. We say that we’re an all-inclusive community that embraces everyone. If we’re going to walk the walk, then we need to talk the talk. This was an important measure to take.”

When municipalities like Novi – and more than a dozen other Michigan cities and towns – embrace non-discrimination protections that cover the LGBTQ community, they set an example for other cities and towns in their state – and, more broadly, the nation. Hundreds of cities and towns over the past 40 years have voted to protect residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, because they know it’s the right thing to do and that no one should face discrimination because of who they are or who they love.

It’s great to see this upward momentum in Michigan! Read more about the state’s steps toward nondiscrimination here.

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