Why does our state lag behind Kansas and West Virginia?
Yesterday a federal judge overturned Oregon’s gay marriage ban. Today, an announcement is expected in a similar case in Pennsylvania. (UPDATE: Indeed, the PA judge ruled the ban unconstitutional). Equality is spreading, and we should celebrate.
At the same time, however, a vote last night in Saginaw’s city council shows how far we in Michigan still have to come, as the city council decided not to protect the city’s gay and transgender population from discrimination in employment and public accommodations. Advocates have been bringing local non-discrimination ordinances to cities across Michigan because the state still fails to provide protection from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
And it’s not just employment protections where Michigan is failing gay and lesbian people. This set of maps created by HRC shows that Michigan offers less protection for its LGBT citizens than many states in the more culturally-conservative South. This one (PDF) is my favorite, showing that while Nebraska, Kentucky, and West Virginia protect gay citizens’ right to visit loved ones in the hospital, Michigan does not.
Polling of Michigan voters (PDF) shows broad support for employment protections, as well as adoption rights, hate crimes protections, and other areas where Michigan is behind. The voters get it. So do business leaders. It’s time to elect leaders – in Saginaw and statewide – who get it too, and will change the law to make Michigan a fairer, more inclusive place.