Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Democrats Call For LGBTQ Protections

State Capitol - file photo
Melissa Benmark

(MPRN-Lansing) Lawmakers in the state House and Senate are once again calling for more legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. 

Lawmakers have tried for years to expand the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include legal protections for LGBT people. Previous attempts have failed to make much progress, due in part to a Republican legislature.

A spokesperson for Speaker of the House Tom Leonard says he is going to let the committee do its work, discuss the issue and vet the proposal before making any decisions.

Kalamazoo Representative Jon Hoadley is a bill sponsor. He says Republicans should join with Democrats on this issue.

“LGBT folks come from all parties,” he said. “People from all parties know and have LGBT folks in their families. So they should be doing it because it’s the right thing for Michigan. They should be doing it for someone they know and love.”

18 states currently prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination. Some advocates, like Ypsilanti mayor, Amanda Edmonds, say the expansion is good for the economy.

“Our commitment to inclusion is also about competitive advantage,” she said. “It is a reason people move to Ypsilanti. It is a reason people stay in our place in Michigan and developers even tell us it is why they are selecting our community to invest in.”

Some opponents argue this expansion would limit the religious liberty of business owners. Others say this type of expansion isn’t necessary. But Stephanie White of Equality Michigan said their organization responds to dozens of requests for help a month from people,

“Who have been kicked out of restaurants, they’ve been harassed on the street, they’ve been forced out of their homes, or suffered from unfair treatment at work. Simply for who they are or who they love.”

A recent nationwide survey found that a majority of transgender Michiganders feel unsupported and have experienced harassment. The legislation's first stop will be a House committee.

Related Content