HRC Condemns Non-Discrimination Amendment in Michigan Excluding Gender Identity

by Stephen Peters

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, strongly condemned an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives by State Representative Frank Foster because of its exclusion of gender identity. The amendment would only add sexual orientation to Michigan’s civil rights act. HRC and its partners insist on fully inclusive language and will actively work to either amend Representative Foster’s bill or pass legislation introduced by Representative Sam Singh in September that is inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We absolutely refuse to leave the transgender community behind in non-discrimination legislation,” said Marty Rouse, HRC’s National Field Director. “It is imperative that both sexual orientation and gender identity be included in any amendment to the state’s civil rights act. It is the only acceptable option, and we steadfastly oppose any amendment that excludes gender identity. HRC and our partners will work tirelessly to either amend Rep. Foster's bill or pass Rep. Singh’s fully inclusive legislation introduced earlier in the year. No Michigander should risk being fired, face discrimination in housing, or be refused service at a restaurant because of who they are or who they love.”

There is no federal law that consistently protects LGBT individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations. Unlike 18 states that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act currently does not. As a result, LGBT people in Michigan face serious discrimination in employment and public accommodations, including being fired, being denied a promotion, and experiencing harassment on the job.

According to a report issued by Michigan’s Fair Housing Centers, housing discrimination against same-sex couples in Michigan is “pervasive.” As part of a study sending teams posing as same-sex couples looking for housing, “more than one in four tests resulted in evidence of discrimination.”

In a national survey of transgender individuals by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 19% reported being denied a home or apartment, while 11% reported being evicted. While 67% of the general population own their own home, according to the survey, only 32% of transgender people do.

In other national surveys, at least one in five transgender people surveyed report experiencing employment discrimination. In six studies conducted between 1996 and 2006, 20 to 57 percent of transgender respondents said they experienced employment discrimination, including being fired, denied a promotion or harassed. Transgender people also face incredible barriers as job applicants.

HRC, along with a broad coalition of other LGBT organizations and businesses, has long supported a bill in Michigan that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. HRC is also a member of Freedom Michigan, a coalition of local and national organizations working to pass a fully-inclusive bill.

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


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