After hours of impassioned testimony in the State Capitol, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission declined a request to include LGBT protections in an anti-discrimination law.
The law, known as the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act, prohibits discrimination in hiring and housing based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status. However, an advocacy group said two things are missing from that list - sexual orientation and gender identity.
"For me it was like a punch in the stomach,” Denzil McCampbell said about the moment he found out protections for the LGBTQ community were not going to happen just yet.
On Monday, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission decided to hold off on declaring that discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation was illegal. The commission tabled the decision after the attorney general's office told them they didn't have the authority to decide.
"This is something that could already be put in place. This is something that every Michigander should have a right to. They should be protected no matter who they are,” McCampbell said.
McCampbell would like to see sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination added to the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act.
An assistant attorney general told the commission the legislature, not the commission, should address changes in state law.
The commission is asking Attorney General Bill Schuette for a formal opinion on its authority.
LGBTQ advocates said they are not going to stop fighting.
"This problem is too serious for our state future and too important to people who are victims of anti-LGBT discrimination for us not to pursue every available avenue to end the discrimination,” said Nathan Triplett, director of Public Policy Equality Michigan.
McCampbell said he just wants the same protections as everyone else.
"So, if I’m applying to this job my sexuality won't be counted against me. If I’m going to apply for housing when I’m done with college, again, my sexuality won’t be used against me,” he said.
There are two laws currently pending in both the State House and Senate that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
It's unclear if those bills will pass.
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