Legislation adds sexual orientation, gender identity to civil rights law

LANSING, Mich., March 8, 2023 — The Michigan House of Representatives passed landmark legislation today adding protections for LGBTQ+ Michiganders to the state’s civil rights law. House Bill 4003 and its companion Senate Bill 4 expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) as a response to overwhelming public support for protections for all citizens of the state to live freely as their full, authentic selves.

“It is a new day in Michigan. Our LGBTQ+ community has waited decades for wrongful discrimination against them to be changed in statute, and because of their tireless efforts — and faith in sending people like me to Lansing to work to advance equal protections for all — we have turned a historic page. This is a moment to be celebrated,” said state Rep. Jason Hoskins (D-Southfield). “I am so proud to have been a part of this historic milestone achievement, and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank those who have been on this road toward equal rights longer than me — including Attorney General Dana Nessel, state Sen. Jeremy Moss and former state Reps. Jon Hoadley and Tim Sneller. We expanded ELCRA by working together, and I know this is only the beginning of us continuing to ensure that the Great Lakes State is an open, inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone, no matter whom they love.”

In 2018, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued an interpretation of ELCRA stating that discrimination on the basis of sex includes sexual orientation. In July 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in Rouch World v. Michigan Department of Civil Rights that interpretation to be constitutionally valid. HB 4003 and SB 4 codify that decision into law to protect the rights of Michiganders from interpretations of future courts.

“As the first nonbinary member of this body, and having advocated for the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ folx for decades, I am overwhelmed with pride to be able to vote on this historic, long-overdue legislation,” said state Rep. Emily Dievendorf (D-Lansing). “These protections will not only allow our friends and neighbors to come out of the shadows and live their truth, it signals to the people of this state and to the country that we will not tolerate discrimination or hatred toward people who simply want to exist and fully participate in our society. The day this legislation is signed into law — which I hope will be very soon — our state will be healthier, safer and more free than it was the day before.”