LGBT, Michigan, Women — December 1, 2014 at 7:50 am

UPDATED: Tell Michigan legislators you want an inclusive non-discrimination law — and no exceptions


Hearings set for Dec. 3 and 4 on two pieces of legislation critical to the LGBT community and beyond. Take action now.

If you believe that every Michigander deserves equal protection under the law — with no exceptions — the time to be heard is now.

The Michigan Legislature is holding hearings on two pieces of legislation this week that could impact the state for years to come. Take a look and then take action.

Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act update

UPDATE: The hearing mentioned in the original post below has taken place, and the committee declined to bring the bill to a vote of the full House. You can read Chris’ post HERE, which includes details on taking action now to support a fully inclusive bill. You can also show your support for a full vote in the House HERE.

On Wednesday, December 3rd, the Michigan Legislature will hold a key hearing on an inclusive update to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which would protect Michiganders from discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity. This protection that does not exist today, which means members of the LGBT community could be fired, denied housing and otherwise discriminated against simply for being who they are. Some legislators want to exclude trans people from the law, but the inclusive update, House Bill 5804, would embrace the entire LGBT community. You can learn more about the importance of these protections HERE.

Freedom Michigan has created a super-easy-to-use form that you can use to contact all of your legislators in seconds. Tell Michigan legislators that you want an inclusive update to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Tell Michigan’s elected officials that we are a state that values everyone who lives here, without exception.

While you’re at it, follow Freedom Michigan on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the important work this group is doing.

Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act / H.B. 5958

UPDATE: The hearing below is now scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday, December. 4th in room 521 of the House Office Building in Lansing (Corner of Capital and Ottawa). If you want to provide testimony, please attend. You can also submit written testimony via to the committee clerk, Angie Lake.

The second piece of legislation is the proposed Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), also known as House Bill 5958, which I wrote about in detail HERE. H.B. 5958 is expected to be brought up in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, December 4th.

The Michigan RFRA could allow religion to be used to discriminate, by allowing people to argue that their religious beliefs let them refuse to comply with laws that prohibit discrimination. The law could be used to discriminate against gay and transgender people — a guidance counselor could refuse to help a gay student because of the counselor’s religious beliefs, for example — but it wouldn’t stop there. A landlord who believes that a man should be the head of a household could refuse to rent to a single mother, or an organization that receives government funding to provide social services could try to turn away people who don’t share the organization’s religious beliefs.

Freedom of religion is already protected in the state and federal constitution because it’s one of America’s fundamental rights. But that freedom doesn’t give any of us the right to harm others. The broadly and poorly written H.B. 5958 could have many unintended consequences. For example, a police officer could refuse to defend a mosque or synagogue, or a man could claim that domestic violence laws don’t apply to him because his religion teaches that a husband has the right to discipline his family as he sees fit. What’s more, the law could result in expensive lawsuits and increased costs to taxpayers.

Michigan doesn’t need the RFRA. Religious freedom is already protected. H.B. 5958 would put an individual’s religious beliefs ahead of the common good, and that’s not good for anyone who lives in Michigan.

There are a number of ways to voice your opposition to H.B. 5958, including attending the hearing on December 4th in Lansing (time to be announced). If you would like to attend the hearing, submit written testimony, sign a letter publicly opposing the RFRA — as an individual or an organization — or would like more information, email Merissa Kovach at the ACLU of Michigan.

Remember: Michigan is stuck with an extremist Legislature because too many people didn’t speak out by voting in November. But it’s never too late to be heard. The time to use your voice is now.

[Image via Freedom Michigan on Facebook.]