Proposal to add LGBTQ protections to Michigan’s civil rights law moves to full Senate

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 5:14 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan is one of 27 states without laws that explicitly protect members of the LGBTQ community, according to the advocacy group Freedom for all Americans.

Next week, the state senate is expected to vote on a bill to change that. The proposal expanding the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity passed out of a senate committee Thursday.

Advocacy groups have been working on expanding the state’s civil rights laws since the 80s, And if Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs this proposal into law, people said they won’t have to suffer in silence.

“I was told ‘If you want to be a welder, you better get used to it,’” said Axel Moss.

Moss is a transgender man who originally went to school to become a welder, but that changed after his first year in college.

“I would be told I shouldn’t be using the bathrooms and I should be getting changed before I arrive,” Moss said. “I was accused of stealing, robbing, and taking attention and resources away.”

Moss said he was told to just toughen up when he reported the discrimination.

“A lot of sadness. Not to be rude, but I am kind of a tough person. I’ve lived my life every day. I’ve been called any slur under the sun you can think of,” he said.

A proposal going before the Michigan Senate would make discrimination like that illegal by adding sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class.

During Thursday’s senate committee hearing, Tom Hickson from the Michigan Catholic Conference said he’d like to see other protections added including for religion.

“Let’s avoid what we believe will take place if this legislation is signed into law without religious protections, that religious or non-profit groups will be taken to state court and possibly held liable because of their sincerely held and long-standing religious beliefs about marriage,” said Hickson.

A proposal to add religious identity failed in the committee. Sen. Jeremy Moss, who introduced the bill, said the first amendment in the U.S. Constitution already protects religious institutions.

“History time and time again has shown discrimination doesn’t help,” said Axel Moss.

Some cities in Michigan, including Lansing and Jackson, have non-discrimination ordinances that already include people in the LGBTQ community.

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