Detroit Regional Chamber > Media Coverage > Michigan Business Groups Push for LGBTQ+ Protections

Michigan Business Groups Push for LGBTQ+ Protections

February 21, 2023

Axios Detroit
Feb. 16, 2023
Samuel Robinson

Michigan lawmakers are optimistic civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ citizens will be added to the state law soon.

Why it matters: “This is a business issue,” the Detroit Regional Chamber said in a news release. “A highly talented and diverse workforce is key to moving our state forward.”

  • SB 4, which just passed through the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, would amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Driving the news: Nearly 50 business groups from across the state, including General Motors, Ford and Dow, signed a letter in support.

Zoom in: Some Republicans have raised concerns that adding additional protections would infringe on religious freedom.

  • Sen. Jim Runestead (R-White Lake) was the Senate committee’s lone no vote, while Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Holly) abstained.

Between the lines About 10-12 Republicans in the state House are expected to vote for the bill, a source with direct knowledge tells Axios.

  • But Republican “yes” voters are still expected to push for amendments to the bill like carve outs for religious exemptions.
  • “(Republicans) say overwhelmingly behind closed doors that it should be illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity — even if it conflicts with their own religious beliefs,” Luke Londo of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission said at a hearing earlier this month.

What they’re saying: “I don’t think it is appropriate to allow the government to let religion discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) said in last week’s committee hearing.

  • “Why would we allow government only to deny LGBTQ rights in the name of religion when we never allow government to uplift LGBTQ rights in the name of religion?”

What’s next: Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), who chairs the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, tells Axios to expect the legislation to come before lawmakers soon.