By Shelby Clark Petkus
Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion and the ACLU of Michigan will present a community conversation on the proposed amendment to the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights bill this month. The amendment aims to add protections in work, housing, etc. for LGBT individuals living in Michigan, specifically by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the act. The Nov. 20 program, dubbed “Panel Discussion: Granting Equal Rights – Valuing Religious Liberty,” will have discussions by Kary Moss and Jay Kaplan of the ACLU, Emily Dievendorf of Equality Michigan, Rev. Dr. Campbell Lovett of the United Church of Christ in Michigan, Rev. Dr. Michaels Nabors, Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS) and other high profile clergy. Dr. Butler’s seminary is considered a very pro-LGBT seminary, while Dr. Lovett is the head of the United Church of Christ denomination for the entire state.
Kevin Hogan, manager of Michigan Roundtable’s “Faith & LGBT Equality Project,” says this event is “the last big opportunity for ‘people of faith’ to get on the same page as we work to amend this law during the lame duck session.
“Michigan Roundtable has been hosting conversations on issues of equality since 1941, usually racial equality, issues of white privilege, etc. We got involved in LGBT issues over the last five years or so, and decided to host this conversation so that people interested in how faith can support the Elliot-Larsen movement could talk.”
Many are urged to attend, particularly after the recent election results. “This conversation is a way to engage certain Christian folks, like Episcopalians, Presbyterians and UCC members, with Catholics, Mormons, etc.,” Hogan notes, adding. “Following the election, some people we expected to attend (like the Mormon bishop) have fallen on the dissenting side.”
The community conversation will run from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20 at the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, located at 1669 W. Maple Road. The program, which is free and open to the public, will be interpreted in American Sign Language for the deaf and hard of hearing. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP by calling Kevin Hogan at 313-870-1500 x115, 248-709-3703 or emailing him at [email protected]. For more information, visit http://www.miroundtable.org/lgbtfaith.html.