Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson Joins Lawmakers and Advocates in Michigan to Celebrate Legislation Ensuring LGBTQ+ Protections

by HRC Staff

HRC, Equality Michigan, and ACLU joined bill sponsor State Senator Jeremy Moss, advocates, and business leaders to speak about the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) amendments moving through the MI legislature, which will add prohibitions on discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

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Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott (left), State Senator Jeremy Moss (center), Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson (right) after a business leaders’ hearing in support of ELCRA. Not pictured, ACLU of Michigan Legislative Director Merissa Kovach.

Lansing, Michigan — Today, the President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization – joined advocates, lawmakers, and press at the Michigan State Senate Office Building to discuss the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) amendments, which would modernize Michigan’s civil rights laws by including explicit protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in Michigan law. The bill, introduced by State Senator Jeremy Moss, passed out of committee today and is anticipated to pass the state Senate next week.

Volunteers and leaders from Equality Michigan, ACLU, HRC gather in front of Michigan’s capitol building.

Currently 29 states – including Michigan – do not have laws that explicitly protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. Although the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in favor of LGBTQ+ protections this past summer, this decision could be reversed by a future court ruling.

State Senator and ELCRA Bill Sponsor Jeremy Moss said the following:

“For far too long, LGBTQ+ Michiganders have not been able to live as their true and authentic selves here with equal protection under the law. Without employment and housing protections in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, our community is vulnerable to being kicked out of our economy as workers and consumers. By including sexual orientation and gender identity or expression as protected classes in the act, we signal that Michigan is a safe place to call home. This committee vote is a win for all of Michigan.”

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson said the following:

“This is nothing short of remarkable, this is the government working for the people and it's powerful. You can hear by every testimony, every story that was shared, this is about the fundamental values of being American. Restoring dignity, ensuring equality, ensuring fairness, and we can do that in the halls of government for everyone!
Being here in this space shows also the rest of the country what is possible. There are still 29 states that don’t have codified non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in this country. Michigan isn’t going to be one of them for very much longer. This is setting the bar - setting the bar of what’s required, in a way that shows when you do legislation that sits with and centers the people of the state - it's good for business, it’s good for education, it's good for everyone. This is a powerful moment indicative of what happens when people come together to support the wellness of the whole. This is an important moment and HRC is so proud to stand alongside our partners.”

Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott said the following:

“Listening to the business community today was such a thrill. We know the business community supports amending Elliott-Larsen. We know that it’s good for business, it’s good for retaining and attracting talent. But I don’t want to forget about the fact that you heard from me and the rest of the community last week. At Equality Michigan, our department of victim services gets calls from members of the LGBTQ+ community on a daily basis that are experiencing some form of discrimination, harassment, or a horrific act of violence. Today’s vote on the behalf of this committee sends a message to the LGBTQ+ community that they are valued, that they are loved, and that discrimination will not be tolerated anymore.
I heard today that there was concern about litigation and going to court. If that’s your concern, just don’t discriminate - it’s that simple”

HRC President Kelley Robinson, Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott, ACLU of Michigan Legislative Director Merissa Kovach, and State Senator Jeremy Moss spoke after the hearing about the grassroots efforts to add explicit protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity over the decades since ELCRA was originally adopted. 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.

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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