Whitmer signs act, expands protection for LGBTQ+ community

People in Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community are now better protected against discrimination.
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 8:23 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WNEM) - People in Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community are now better protected against discrimination.

“I am so proud to be here and I’m excited to put our state on the right side of history. You ready?” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Exciting moments for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies as Whitmer signed a bill expanding Michigan’s civil rights law to include protections for LGBTQ+ individuals.

“Every day is a great day to be a Michigander. What we saw today was a historic signing of legislation that was long overdue to provide protections for the LGBTQ+ community in the areas of housing, public accommodation, and employment,” said Scott Ellis, the executive director for Great Lakes Bay Pride.

Ellis was in the room Thursday, March 16, as speakers remarked on the meaning of the moment for those who’ve fought and struggled for so long for equality.

“We have been working on this for quite a while and many generations before us have been working on this for nearly 50 years,” Ellis said.

Michigan’s civil rights law is called the Elliott-Larsen civil rights act. The amendment now includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and would stop someone from firing, evicting, or otherwise discriminating against someone on that basis.

Mel Larsen, who is one half of the law’s namesake, was also in attendance. He recalled when the law first went into effect in 1977.

“The original intent and still is, that every citizen in Michigan has the right to be protected under the Elliott-Larsen civil rights act,” Larsen said.

Michigan is the 22nd state to provide such protections under state law.

Ellis said a lot more needs to be done, including banning conversion therapy and enshrining marriage equality in the constitution.

“There’s been a rise in hate crimes. There’s been a rise in this anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in Michigan and across the country,” Ellis said, “According to Human Rights Campaign, over 400 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation have been introduced in state legislatures across the country.”

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