Advocacy News – March 9, 2023
**Update: Governor Whitmer signed this legislation into law March 16, 2023. The bill is now Public Act 6 of 2023.
The Michigan House put its approval on legislation to give civil rights protections to the LGBTQ+ community Wednesday and the bill was sent to Governor Whitmer’s desk for her signature earlier today.
The amendment to the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) would make Michigan the 24th state to add protections for individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The legislation is one of the new Democratic majority’s priorities for the 2023-24 legislative session.
Senate Bill 4 passed out of the House Wednesday on a bipartisan basis (64-45) and passed out of the Senate last week (23-15).
The MI Chamber, along with other business groups voiced their support for the legislation, which codifies two court decisions of 2022. Because of these decisions, current law protects individuals from being discriminated against for employment, housing and education based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In Rouch World v MI Department of Civil Rights, the Court stated that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation constitutes a violation of the ELCRA as currently written. A lower court decision previously held the ELCRA banned discrimination on the basis of gender identity and that decision was left intact by the MI Supreme Court.
In codifying the court’s decision, the ELCRA will continue to support non-discriminatory hiring practices and give every employee equal opportunity and equal protection under the law, regardless of their religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, marital status and sexual orientation or gender identity.
While the MI Chamber generally opposes more governmental interference in employment decisions, it’s important to remember that this is the law today. Furthermore, adding carefully drafted protections for sexual orientation and gender identity would help foster an environment where Michigan’s diverse workforce can reach its full potential without fear of discrimination.
The MI Chamber’s 84-member Board of Directors has approved the Chamber’s position on this legislation with input from the Chamber’s Health, Human Resources and Talent Committee as well as numerous other MI Chamber members.
Please contact Wendy Block with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.