DETROIT – Michigan's "Big Three" automakers announced today their joint support for Fair and Equal Michigan, joining other business leaders, LGBTQ groups and leaders from both sides of the political aisle to add LGBTQ protections to the state's current civil rights law. The initiative, launched on Jan. 7, seeks to introduce a citizens' bill in the State Legislature after advocates collect 340,047 citizen signatures. The Legislature will have 40 days to adopt. This marks the first time Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford and General Motors have issued a joint statement in favor of amending the state's landmark civil rights law to protect LGBTQ
"At FCA, we are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive working environment that enables us to exceed the expectations of our diverse customer base," said Chief Operating Officer of FCA – North America Mark Stewart. "In that spirit, we believe that amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for LGBTQ individuals is an important step towards achieving full equality and respect for all people."
"At Ford, we welcome and value everyone's unique contributions by fostering a safe and inclusive work environment. In order to continue to compete and win globally, we must be able to recruit and retain the talented people from all backgrounds," said Chief Diversity Officer at Ford Motor Company Lori Costew. "In supporting these efforts to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, Ford Motor Company affirms our belief that inclusion of everyone makes us stronger, drives more innovation and, in turn, is best for customers and other stakeholders."
"As a proud member of the Human Rights Campaign's Business Coalition, General Motors stands with our LGBTQ employees and their families in support of the Fair and Equal Michigan campaign to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act in Michigan," said General Motors Company Global Chief Diversity Officer Ken Barrett. "At GM, promoting a culture that is inclusive and free of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, affords all our employees to proudly be who they are at work … an environment that is open, supportive and empowering … where everyone is valued and belongs."
The campaign recently announced that it has made Michigan history by shifting to an online signature collection strategy to comply with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order. Other previously announced companies supporting Fair and Equal Michigan include DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, Apple, Dow, Rock Holdings, and Herman Miller. It has also been endorsed by the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chamber, Michigan Dental Association, League of Women Voters, American Association of University Women and State Employees Retiree Association.
"The 'Big Three' auto companies understand that every Michigander deserves a fair and equal chance to succeed. FCA, Ford and GM know first-hand this is about attracting and retaining the best talent to Michigan in support of economy. Their support is a significant milestone in this campaign and we look forward to carrying this momentum forward to ensure we collect the signatures needed to place the issue in front of the Legislature," said Fair and Equal Michigan Co-Chair Trevor Thomas.
Fair and Equal Michigan is seeking to amend the state Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for LGBTQ individuals. The Act already protects individuals against discrimination in employment, public accommodation and housing based on 10 factors, including age, race, sex and religion. The Fair and Equal Michigan initiative would amend the current law by defining "sex" as including "gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression."
"Michigan auto manufacturers understand that being welcoming and accepting of LGBTQ individuals is good for business. They recognize that, even though their own internal policies have protected LGBTQ employees from discrimination for years, banning discrimination statewide will make Michigan a more attractive place to live and work. With today's announcement, the Big Three are making clear that being a welcoming state is about talent attraction as much as it is fairness and equality," Thomas said.