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BTL EDITORIAL: Bolger And Murray On The Wrong Side Of History

By |2014-11-20T09:00:00-05:00November 20th, 2014|Opinions, Viewpoints|

Out-going Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) and openly gay President of AT&T Michigan Jim Murray have been pushing for an exclusionary amendment to Michigan’s civil rights law — the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The duo want to pass a bill that protects based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity and expression. Bolger says inclusion of the transgender community is unnecessary. Murray has surrendered to the ugly group-think of least resistance governance. He believes that because he can get a majority to support the so-called “two word” solution, we should all settle for a half measure. “A half pizza looks pretty good,” he told MLive.
Unless, of course, you are transgender. There is no pizza for you in a half measure. There is only the status quo, some of which we highlight below:
– One in five transgender people have been refused housing because of their gender identity, The National Center for Transgender Equality reports.
– One in 10 transgender people have been evicted because of their gender identity, the NCTE reports
– Transwomen at 49 times more likely than any other people to be infected with HIV worldwide, according to a March 2013 study published in the Lancet Infectious Disease journal.
– Transgender people were more than four times more likely to live in extreme poverty – with an annual income of under $10,000 – according to a 2011 study and report from the National LGBTQ Task Force.
– 78 percent of K-12 age transgender and gender nonconforming persons reported harassment at school, according to that Task Force report.
– 35 percent reporting assault, and 12 percent reported sexual violence.
– One-sixth of those K-12 students reporting the harassment and violence was so severe they left school as a result.
– The unemployment rate for transgender and gender nonconforming persons is twice the national average.
– 90 percent reported experiencing workplace harassment or discrimination or being forced to hide their identity in the workplace.
– 26 percent report being fired for their gender identity or expression.
– 16 percent report they were forced to turn to the underground economy in order to survive.
This is why the Michigan House Democratic Caucus has taken a stand to oppose any legislation that does not include gender identity and expression in amending Elliott-Larsen. This is why ACLU of Michigan, Equality Michigan and the Unity partners have said if a bill isn’t inclusive, it must die.
And this is why Murray “disengaged” from the fight to amend Elliott-Larsen. He was focused on a narrow win; a win his own employer AT&T national said it didn’t support. Now Bolger and his allies in the GOP controlled House would like you to think opposition to the sexual orientation-only Elliott-Larsen — the so-called “two word solution” — is because of bullying from the left.
That’s not the case. The fact is, without gender identity and expression covered in Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen, the entire LGBT community loses. And it is our trans brothers and sisters who will suffer the most with a “two word solution.” That exclusion will kill people and cause irreparable harm.
Murray and Bolger are simply on the wrong side of history. They are standing up for a very dangerous status quo, as demonstrated by the outrageous statistics related to how differently the transgender community is treated in our state and our country.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.