LANSING — Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist issued a proclamation marking June as Pride Month to recognize the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ Michiganders.
“LGBTQ+ Michiganders are an essential part of who we are, and they make our state a better place to live and work,” Whitmer said. “Members of our LGBTQ+ community deserve full protection under the law so they can live their authentic lives. We still have work to do to make Michigan a truly inclusive state and we must expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act because the vaccine for discrimination is legislation. I encourage all Michiganders to recognize and celebrate the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community this Pride Month.”
Lt. Gov. Gilchrist took a stand as well, noting the more than 370,000 LGBTQ+ Michiganders living across the state.
“We must continue to fight to make sure LGBTQ+ individuals feel safe, valued, and know that their state will invest in their health and potential,” he said. “Making connections, listening and understanding the personal stories of LGBTQ+ individuals around you is something every Michigander can do to honor Pride Month. I will continue striving for future generations to see Michigan as a place to be whom they wish, love whom they want, and be proud.”
Lesbian Attorney General Dana Nessel, whose work was instrumental in securing marriage equality in 2015, noted her election as the first openly LGBTQ+ person to be elected to statewide office. She said that she looks forward to both celebrating Pride month this June and that it serves as a “call to action” for Michiganders.
“We must work year-round to fight for equal protection under the law,” Nessel said. “I have dedicated myself to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and ask the people of this great state to step up as allies well beyond the month of June. A more inclusive future is dependent upon our collective efforts.”
June 2021 celebrates Pride Month to commemorate the 52nd anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, an event recognized as a catalyst for the modern LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Movement.
“We have a lot to celebrate as a community, especially a year after the historic Supreme Court ruling last June that upheld federal employment protections for the LGBTQ+ Americans,” said Sen. Jeremy Moss, who is gay. “We must also remember that Pride Month began not as a celebration but as a liberation against decades of harassment, embarrassment and discrimination that the LGBTQ+ community faced. There is work yet to be done and we must amend Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity among the existing protected classes.”
Bisexual Rep. Laurie Pohutsky agreed with Moss, adding that she hopes her “colleagues on the other side of the aisle finally recognize that this change is long past due.”
As much work as remains to be done, Michigan has made several notable and historical strides toward advancing civil rights for LGBTQ+ people. First, with the nation’s first non-discrimination ordinance passed in 1972 in East Lansing, and second with the nation’s first Civil Rights Commission to independently recognize that discrimination “because of sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity in 2018.
Whitmer, for her part, has called upon the state’s Legislature in her first State of the State Address to expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Whitmer was also the first governor to fly the Pride Flag on a State of Michigan building in 2019. She also signed Executive Directive 2019-09 to expand protections for LGBTQ+ state employees and issued a statement of support regarding the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on LGBTQ+ protections, which deemed that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination based on sex.
Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott called Whitmer a “staunch champion for equality.” She noted the roadblocks in the way to equality.
“Unfortunately, the Michigan Legislature is the last place where bias is accepted. For 38 years, the Legislature has refused to prohibit discrimination of LGBTQ+ people. Fighting back against discrimination takes tenacity and strength. I am honored to stand with strong leaders like Gov. Whitmer who will hold the line with me, and who will not support a license to discriminate, as all Michiganders deserve to be treated fairly and equally,” Knott said.
View the full proclamation here.