Gov. Whitmer Announces New LGBTQ+ Commission at Motor City Pride

Advisory board will report to governor, Department of Labor

Sarah Bricker Hunt

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a new statewide initiative benefiting LGBTQ+ community members on June 11 at the Motor City Pride festival. Michigan’s first LGBTQ+ Commission will focus on issues impacting the community, including health, safety and economic opportunity. The ultimate goal for the new commission, according to a news release, is to make Michigan “a state where anyone can build a bright future.”

The move comes just a few months after the governor signed into law an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act that granted discrimination protections to the LGBTQ+ community.

Gov. Whitmer marching in the Motor City Pride parade on June 11. Photo: Casey Hull

“As we celebrate Pride, we must continue taking action to ensure that everyone has the freedom to be who they are in Michigan,” Whitmer said in the release. “That’s why I am establishing the LGBTQ+ Commission to focus on health, safety, economic opportunity and talent retention for the LGBTQ+ community. This issue is personal for me, and I will fight like hell to bring more diverse voices into the decision-making process so we can build a brighter future for every Michigander. While other states are engaged in the business of bigotry, Michigan is standing up for the LGBTQ+ community.”

The LGBTQ+ Commission will serve as an advisory body to the governor and the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, providing input on topics like discrimination, inequality, health and safety, culture, history and economic issues. Additionally, the news release reads, the Commission will “look at ways to attract potential future residents from the LGBTQ+ community by ensuring that Michigan is a safe place where its members and their families can thrive.”

Michigan Sen. Jeremy Moss, who co-authored the legislation to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act alongside Rep. Jason Hoskins, responded to the announcement on Twitter, posting, “This is what representative government looks & acts like. @GovWhitmer creates the 1st-ever #LGBTQ+ Commission to raise concerns, share ideas, & establish goals to continue making MI a welcoming state for all residents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

This is what representative government looks & acts like.@GovWhitmer creates the 1st-ever #LGBTQ+ Commission to raise concerns, share ideas, & establish goals to continue making MI a welcoming state for all residents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

— Senator Jeremy Moss (@JeremyAllenMoss) June 11, 2023

Several other prominent LGBTQ+ community members and allies are quoted in the news release.

Hoskins said, “The establishment of an LGBTQ+ Commission signifies a major milestone in advancing LGBTQ+ rights and ensuring that the voices of our community are heard at the highest levels of government. This bold initiative demonstrates Michigan's dedication to cultivating a more inclusive and welcoming state, where every individual can live authentically and without fear of discrimination.”

"This year is historic as our Democratic trifecta and the largest LGBTQ+ caucus in Michigan history are in charge and ushering in real progress,” said Rep. Emily Dievendorf. “I continue to be grateful and unsurprised by Governor Whitmer's commitment to achieving equality. I support the Governor's commission and look forward to continuing the good work."

“I am excited by the opportunity for Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community to have a dedicated space to advise the Executive Branch on policies, programs, and projects that will most benefit LGBTQ+ Michiganders from West Bloomfield to Wyoming and beyond," said Rep. Noah Arbit. “Governor Whitmer’s initiative to form the commission is consistent with her record as the most pro-equality governor in Michigan history, and I am so grateful for her leadership.”

“This year, Michigan has become the most pro-LGBTQ+ it has ever been,” said Rep. Jason Morgan. “Establishing the LGBTQ+ Commission is a huge accomplishment in our state. This commission will advocate on behalf of LGBTQ+ Michiganders. I’m so proud to celebrate with the most LGBTQ+ friendly Governor we’ve ever had and to make clear to all, that we love you!”

"The governor’s executive order creating the LGBTQ+ Commission is a win for economic development,” said Rep. Mike McFall. “Inclusivity ignites innovation, and Michigan's success hinges on attracting, embracing, and empowering the best and the brightest talent."

“It is inspiring to see public recognition and support from Michigan’s leaders and elected officials on issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community through the creation of a statewide LGBTQ+ Commission, particularly at a time when our community continues to face a record-breaking wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation and rhetoric across our country,” said Gwen Stembridge (she/her), advocacy campaign manager for The Trevor Project. “Michigan’s statewide LGBTQ+ Commission will play a critical role in ensuring state policies are inclusive and address the unique needs of all LGBTQ+ Michiganders — like legislation that was recently signed codifying LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections into law and a bill currently being considered that would ban the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.”

“Gretchen Whitmer has been and continues to be a champion for LGBTQ+ Michiganders. From her first days in office when she prohibited the use of state funds for so-called 'conversion therapy' to signing into law a bipartisan amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act earlier this year, the Governor has relentlessly led Michigan toward progress,” said Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “This commission is just another example of her and our elected officials’ commitment to LGBTQ+ rights.”

“Today, Equality Michigan applauds Governor Gretchen Whitmer for establishing an LGBTQ+ Commission. Since taking office, Governor Whitmer has taken repeated action to protect Michigan's LGBTQ+ community,” said Erin Knott, executive director of Equality Michigan. “In addition to issuing a proclamation marking June as Pride Month, Whitmer was the first governor in Michigan to fly the Pride Flag. From protecting minors from conversion therapy to strengthening protections against discrimination in state employment through executive actions, as well as signing Senate Bill 4 reaffirming civil rights protections for sexual orientation and expanding coverage to include gender identity, Governor Whitmer has proven herself to be a staunch ally and fierce protector of LGBTQ+ Michiganders."

Read the executive order here.