BY AJ TRAGER
MICHIGAN – Community and LGBT organizations from across the state have come together to create a new campaign aimed at holding legislators accountable for passage of an all inclusive bill to amend the state’s civil-rights amendment.
Before the Michigan legislature are two bills that will amend the state’s civil rights act, Elliott-Larsen, to include sexual orientation protections but one will exclude gender identity protections.
The “five word” bill includes gender identity and sexual orientation protections, and the “two word” bill, introduced on Nov. 11, only includes sexual orientation protections and creates a huge legal loophole in protecting LGBT people.
Activists and LGBT community leaders have come out to fight the passage of the “two word” bill that in the words of the Executive Director of Equality Michigan, Emily Dievendorf, will “leave the transgender community behind.”
The campaign, Dropping The Call, is aimed at the President of AT&T, Jim Murray, who also co-chairs the Competitive Workforce Coalition, a group of business leaders advocating for amending Elliott-Larsen; and through community involvement asks Murray to fully support the “five word” bill and not the “two word” bill.
“The cold hard fact is the votes don’t exist. I’ve heard from several legislators – from both sides of the aisle – ‘I can support sexual orientation, but I am just not comfortable with transgender protections,'” Murray told BTL earlier in the week.
Dropping The Call asks for Michiganders to reach out and speak to Murray and CEO of AT&T Michigan, Mr. Stephenson, to stand by equality and support a fully inclusive Elliott-Larsen amendment.
“Jim Murray is reneging on that commitment, and he isn’t doing it quietly,” the campaign website reads. “He’s reneging on AT&T’s commitment to full coverage for everyone. But we believe in them.”
This is the last week to introduce legislation in the state legislature, currently in lame duck, the period between elections and the start of a new term in January, before the cycle resets after the New Year. And local groups like Equality Michigan, Affirmations, PFLAG Plymouth-Canton, OPCC, GLU, Holland is Ready, The Network, The Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center, Transgender Michigan GNA and a few others have come together to fight for the passage the all inclusive bill.
“To endorse anything less than a whole bill is unacceptable. The LGBT community, the entire LGBT community deserve legal protections from discrimination,” said Jay Maddock, executive director of the KGLRC. “This bill hurts everyone. But we know there are good people in Michigan, and we’re calling on you to help us keep Michigan whole.”
The campaign website http://www.droppingthecall.com, houses many resources from connecting with the state legislators and AT&T to sharing the campaign on social media to get friends and family up to date and involved on the state’s most recent fight for LGBT equality.