In Roundtable with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michiganders Call for LGBTQ Nondiscrimination

By Adam Polaski • March 12, 2019 • 10:15 am

Last month, on Thursday, February 21, supporters of LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections gathered with United States Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib at the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park, Michigan to discuss the harms of discrimination.

The effort was coordinated by Inclusive Justice, a faith-based coalition in Michigan dedicated to elevating the voices of faith leaders who support dignity and equality for LGBTQ people. The event was hosted the week after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called for Michigan’s statewide nondiscrimination law to be updated to protect LGBTQ people. Earlier in the year, Governor Whitmer signed an Executive Order protecting public employees from discrimination.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a strong supporter of LGBTQ protections, said after the event:

“I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet with young people and members of the clergy to discuss the discrimination that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people face all too often here in Michigan and across the country. Today I heard from my constituents loud and clear: Discrimination or fear of a discrimination from a lack of protections disadvantages LGBTQ Michiganders every day and impacts their lives in so many areas, from getting a job to finding a quality place to live to getting served in a restaurant or store. We need to be doing all we can – and fast – to ensure that LGBTQ people have equal justice under the law, like all Americans should.”

Detroit Jews for Justice co-founder Rabbi Alana Alpert was one of the many faith leaders who attended the roundtable and spoke out about her support for LGBTQ nondiscrimination. She said:

“For my community, being a religious person means not only being awake to the brokenness in our society, but also committing to acting toward wholeness. It is the responsibility of faith leaders in Michigan and everywhere to raise their voices and urge us toward full dignity for all members of our communities, including LGBTQ people.”

Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow, a board member of Inclusive Justice, the leader of the Umoja Project, and Senior Pastor and Teacher at the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit, led the discussion for most of the afternoon. He said:

“This conversation was a part of a broader, year-long effort across Michigan and throughout the United States to raise awareness about anti-LGBTQ discrimination and demand urgent action. For far too long LGBTQ Michiganders have endured discrimination without the guarantee of explicit federal and state protections, and that needs to change. We’re thankful for leadership from lawmakers like Rep. Rashida Tlaib and are hopeful that LGBTQ people nationwide will share their stories and ask for action from other policy-makers.”

Across Michigan, more and more people are raising their voices in support of LGBTQ nondiscrimination. To read some of the stories of LGBTQ Michiganders and their allies, see the collection of voices at Faces of Freedom, a new online resource that catalogs stories of LGBTQ people from across the country.

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