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Snyder sees chance to expand anti-discrimination law to include sexual orientation

Detroit Free Press: May 29, 2014

Gov. Rick Snyder sees an opportunity for the Michigan Legislature to move this year to include sexual orientation into the state’s anti-discrimination law, his spokeswoman said Thursday.
The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act protects Michigan residents from discrimination based on race, gender, age and other characteristics, but not sexual orientation.
That puts the question in the hands of the Legislature. Ari Adler, spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger, said there is no timeline for moving on the issue, but he is in discussions about expanding the protections under Elliott-Larsen.
“The speaker has been working with a lot of different folks to try to find a balance between ending discrimination based on sexual orientation,” he said, “while at the same time protecting people’s religious freedoms.”
The issue came into the spotlight at the Mackinac Policy Conference on Thursday as Chrysler Group LLC, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce announced that they will join several other businesses in calling for adding sexual orientation to the protections under Elliott-Larsen.
“This is about Michigan’s competitiveness and our ability to attract and retain talent. We hear from our members in west Michigan on a regular basis that while infrastructure and tax policy impact the work they are doing, finding highly skilled, creative and talented people to fill jobs is a growing challenge,” Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce said in a statement today.
Earlier this month, 12 businesses, including AT&T, Herman Miller and Blue Cross Blue Shield, announced the creation of the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition to show their support for expanding the act.
The new members announced today also include Clark Hill PLC, Irwin Seating Co., Issue Media Group, Kellogg Co., Pfizer, Professional Property Management and Slow’s Bar BQ.