Despite many firsts for the LGBTQ community in the United States, Michigan has yet to add statewide protections for this group.
In 1972, East Lansing and Ann Arbor were the first cities in the nation to past protections for gays and lesbians. In 1974, a lesbian, Cathy Kozachenko became the first openly gay elected official in the US when she was elected to the Ann Arbor city council.
But according to the Human Rights Campaign, Michigan still lacks several laws protecting the LGBTQ community including protections in housing, employment, public accommodations or education. Lawmakers have tried and failed more than a dozen times to change the state’s 1976 Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include the LGBTQ community.
Last Friday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette ruled that state law does not ban discrimination against LGBT people, declaring a commission’s interpretation to be invalid while stating that only the Legislature or voters can expand the law to provide such protections.
Schuette, who is running for governor as a Republican, issued his opinion at the request of GOP legislative leaders. In May, the Civil Rights Commission began processing complaints after releasing an interpretive statement that said discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is a form of “sex” discrimination outlawed under the state’s 1976 civil rights law.
Democratic State Representative John Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) talked with WKAR’s Reginald Hardwick about the failed efforts to introduce LGBTQ protections into state law.