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  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an amendment to protect queer LGBTQ+ Michiganders, March 16, 2023. Photo: Whitmer's office

A Momentous Event as Gov. Whitmer Signs Amendment to Protect LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Across Michigan

Michigan is the 22nd state to have civil rights laws that are LGBTQ+ inclusive

By |2023-03-20T09:31:42-04:00March 16th, 2023|Michigan, News|

Last November, Michigan voters spoke loud and clear at the ballot box, scoring wins for a long list of Democratic legislators and executives who promised to prioritize equality for queer Michiganders. Today, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stood by that promise, using her powerful pen to sign into law Senate Bill 4, an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act that extends statewide discrimination protections to the LGBTQ+ community. This makes Michigan the 22nd state to have civil rights laws that are LGBTQ+ inclusive.

The bill’s passage is the culmination of literally decades of hard fought labor on the part of the queer and ally community, which has included historical moments like out lesbian Attorney General Dana Nessel arguing before the state Supreme Court on behalf of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the election of queer legislators like bill-sponsor Sen. Jeremy Moss and countless hours of behind-the-scenes work by organizations like ACLU of Michigan, Equality Michigan and many more. 

Several key figures attended today’s ceremonial signing, including Nessel and Moss; it was a nod to the collaborative effort on the part of these key players and stakeholders throughout the state. “This day has been a long time coming,” Gov. Whitmer said before officially signing the bill into law. With a gleaming smile, she also quoted Detroit native Lizzo: “It’s about damn time.” 

“I am excited to put our state on the right side of history,” she added.

Also in attendance was former Michigan State Rep. Melvin L. Larsen, who spoke before Whitmer about the history of the bill. Larsen praised the leadership in the room who “made this day possible.”

“The original intent is that every citizen of Michigan deserves to be protected under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act,” he said.

After the signing, which took place at UrbanBeat, a bar just down the street from the Capitol in Lansing, the room erupted into a chorus of cheers and tears. A similar celebration, though virtual in nature, played out across social media. 

Equality Michigan posted on Twitter, “”Your tireless fight and passion are heard, and your energy has been with us every step of the way.” Codifying the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act amendment has made Michigan the 22nd state to expand LGBTQ+ protections. This is a victory for everyone who fought along the way.”

Nationally, The Human Rights campaign also posted to social media, writing, “This is a tremendous victory for LGBTQ+ people across Michigan! 🏳️‍🌈”

Earlier in the day, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, an ally, posted a video of him speaking about the ELCRA amendment on Twitter. In the post, he wrote, “I’m thrilled that after decades of advocacy, today Governor @gewhitmer will sign an expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for LGBTQ+ Michiganders. Our message is clear: no matter who you love or how you identify, you have a home in Michigan 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️.”

Additional reporting by Chris Azzopardi and Ellen Shanna Knoppow.

About the Author:

Sarah Bricker Hunt, a proud Eastern Michigan University alum and the managing editor for Pride Source/Between The Lines, believes in the power of intentional journalism focused on people building their communities through everyday acts of love and service.
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