On June 6, Michigan Sen. Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) introduced a bill to amend Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act. If passed, the bill would add sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the list of classes of Michiganders that would be protected against hate crimes.
“Most Michiganders value fundamental fairness for all residents and agree that no community of persons should be singled out and left vulnerable by lack of equal protections,” said Emily Dievendorf, Equality Michigan’s director of policy. “The Ethnic Intimidation Act’s current lack of protection for the gay and transgender community has done more than insult the value system that Michiganders share, it has allowed for actual and heinous – often gruesome harm to be done to Michigan citizens without any path to swift and appropriate recourse.”
The legislation was introduced just a week after release of new hate crime data that showed a big increase in violent crimes against LGBT people in Michigan.
Equality Michigan’s Victim Services Director, Nusrat Ventimiglia, announced the release of new data on hate crimes. “Shockingly, the report highlights the highest rate of homicides recorded since the report’s history. Michigan had the highest homicides of any reporting state. While national reports of hate violence decreased slightly, Michigan saw a slight increase in overall reports, and a drastic increase in rates of severe violence.”
Senate Bill 1174 was referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations. The legislation is co-sponsored by 10 of Sen. Johnson’s Democratic colleagues. No Republicans have signed on to the bill.