After Decades of Advocacy, Human Rights Campaign Celebrates Landmark Victory as Michigan Enacts First-Ever LGBTQ+ Protections, Reaffirming that Elections Matter and Culture Warrior Candidates Will Continue Losing in Battleground States

by HRC Staff

Watershed Moment Comes After More Than 40 Years of Advocacy in Michigan — As More Than 410 Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills are Pending in Legislatures Across the Country — Sending A Sharp Rebuke and Warning to Culture Warrior Candidates Vying for National Office in 2024 that Anti-LGBTQ+ Extremism Is a Losing Strategy in Battleground States Where National Elections Are Decided

Lansing, MICHIGAN — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — commends Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for signing into law a bipartisan amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) that explicitly includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. This is the first statewide law in Michigan to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, and is a repudiation against extremist lawmakers waging an anti-LGBTQ+ culture war across the country.

This amended civil rights law is not only due to decades of organizing by pro-LGBTQ+ groups and activists, it’s a direct result of the will of Michigan voters in the 2022 midterm elections, who rejected a dangerous, anti-LGBTQ+ campaign by radical politicians. Passage of the ELCRA amendment is proof that the attempt to win voters by using LGBTQ+ people as a wedge issue is a failing strategy - voters are not falling for it.

Across the country and in Michigan, election deniers and right-wing extremists lost winnable elections in battleground states because they advocated views that are out-of-touch with average voters. Not only did this result in a wave of historic victories for LGBTQ+ candidates, women, and candidates of color, but it also denied extremists the so-called “red wave” they were banking on — sending a clear message that embracing hate and disinformation are not a long term, sustainable path to victory.

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson released the following statement:

“This is an incredible and historic day for LGBTQ+ people, for the people of Michigan, and for all Americans across our nation. Last fall we witnessed a dangerous, anti-LGBTQ+ campaign by extremist politicians in Michigan - a campaign that ultimately failed because the voters of Michigan overwhelmingly rejected it. Today, due to the will of those voters and the turnout efforts of the Hate Won’t Win coalition, we witnessed Governor Whitmer sign LGBTQ+ protections into law. Michiganders have worked so hard and for so long for this moment, and we could not be prouder to have worked alongside them.
“The passage of the ELCRA amendment is a beacon of hope for those fighting for their rights. In states like Tennessee or Florida or Oklahoma, this is a reminder that when we come together as one we can and we will build a better future for everyone, including for LGBTQ+ people. Here at HRC we thank everyone that helped make this legislation a reality and we applaud Governor Whitmer for making history. Today is a day of celebration.”

Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott released the following statement:

"On behalf of our community, I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Governor and all of Michigan's elected officials for standing up for what's right and never backing down from a bully. Equality Michigan, the Human Rights Campaign, and the entire Hate Won’t Win coalition is inspired to push as hard and as fast as we can here in Michigan, to move good LGBTQ+ policy with this pro-equality legislature, while continuing to stamp out the genocidal and inflammatory rhetoric of extremists and their related attempts to turn back the clock on our rights. This is what Michiganders voted for last November."

Last year, HRC launched its “Reality Flag” campaign to call attention to the fact that 29 states – including Michigan – did not have laws that explicitly protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. to call attention. That number is now 28 states. While the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the existing nondiscrimination provisions in ELCRA include protections for LGBTQ+ people, this decision could have been reversed by a future court ruling if the amendment had not been codified into law.

In contrast to Michigan’s pro-equality progress, HRC is currently tracking more than 410 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in state houses across the country.

Last month, Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson, Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott, and ACLU of Michigan Legislative Director Merissa Kovach joined bill sponsor and State Senator Jeremy Moss, advocates, and business leaders to speak about the decades of grassroots organizing to amend ELCRA.

Since 2018, HRC has had a dedicated team in Michigan working to grow HRC’s grassroots army and show political strength in the legislature and at the ballot box. With support from HRC members, we engage with state lawmakers and lobbyists to boost pro-equality legislation and defeat harmful bills, recruit and train volunteers, mobilize constituents to support or oppose legislation in Lansing, and turn out the 1.1 million Equality Voters in Michigan in support of pro-equality candidates up and down the ballot.

In the 2022 midterm elections, mobilization efforts of the Hate Won’t Win coalition, made up of Equality Michigan, HRC, ACLU, community centers and other organizations across the state, helped re-elect Governor Whitmer and elect a pro-equality legislative majority, resulting in movement on the ELCRA amendment for the first time in 40 years.

With nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ+ people having reported experiencing discrimination in their personal lives, the amended ELCRA will guarantee that LGBTQ+ Michiganders are extended the same nondiscrimination protections that other Michiganders have enjoyed for decades. According to a recent poll by the Glengariff Group, 74% of likely Michigan voters support the updated ELCRA and its LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination protections.

This support reflects the broad and growing support mirrored in communities across the country. Recent polling from PRRI finds that 8 in 10 Americans favor laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing (including 67% of Republicans).

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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