Citizen initiative would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people

Reposted from Fair and Equal Michigan

Business, political and philanthropic leaders join LGBTQ advocacy groups to proclaim: Every Michigander should have an equal chance to succeed

Fair-and-Equal-Michigan-Proposed-Petition-for-Initiation-of-Legislation-Feb-7-2020-1024x622A growing committee of Michigan citizens submitted petition language today to the Board of State Canvassers seeking to initiate legislation amending the state’s current civil rights law  the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act. The proposed initiative would clarify that the Act’s existing prohibitions on discriminatory practices, policies, and customs in the exercise of civil rights prohibits discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. The petition submitted today by Fair and Equal Michigan, a Michigan ballot question committee, starts the process to amend the Act.

Non-partisan Michigan pollster Richard Czuba conducted a statewide survey of 600 registered voters that shows 77.5 percent of likely 2020 Michigan General Election voters support legislation to amend the state’s civil rights law to protect LGBTQ people (66 percent strongly support). Conversely, 16.5 percent do not support. By a margin of 77-17 percent, voters say they would support a citizen initiative to bypass the legislature and put the issue to a vote of the people — including 75 percent of leaning GOP voters and 66 percent of strong Republican voters.

“When I co-sponsored Michigan’s Civil Rights Act in 1973 with Rep. Daisy Elliott, it was about treating everybody equally, especially in employment, housing and our most basic of services; it is long past the time to recognize sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Hon. Mel Larsen, former Member, Michigan House of Representatives. “The legislature can act at any time to amend the Civil Rights Act. This coalition of Michigan citizens has support across LGBTQ groups, the business and philanthropic sectors, and both sides of the political aisle. There is more that brings us together – than forces us apart.”

“Business leaders know that to stay competitive we need to support the people we employ, and that means making clear that there is no place for discrimination in the workplace,” said Jerry Norcia, President and Chief Executive Officer, DTE Energy. “Today’s top job creators are looking to grow in states and communities that are welcoming to everyone. If Michigan wants to compete, we must take a clear stand against discrimination in any form. This effort strengthens Michigan business, our economy and our people.”

“Dow has called Michigan home for more than 120 years, and we are proud to bring top talent here from around the world,” said Jim Fitterling, Chief Executive Officer, Dow. “For Michigan to continue to compete and win globally, and for Dow to continue to innovate in the state, we must be able to recruit and retain the best talent. A fully inclusive community for everyone that lives in Michigan is imperative for all of us to continue effectively doing business in our great state.”

“Discrimination runs contrary to our most basic of American values,” said Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer, Apple. “By protecting every person from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, we can help make sure that every person is measured by their talents and creativity and is treated with the dignity and respect that is due to all.”

“Advancing the fair treatment of all people – regardless of their race, religion, disability, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity – is a key component of retaining and growing a world-class, talented workforce,” said Patti Poppe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Consumers Energy. “To stay competitive in today’s economy, we need to be bold in our efforts to make our communities more welcoming to all. And efforts to expand Elliott-Larsen is also the right thing to do for our companies, our customers and Michigan.”

“Few people know that in 1972 East Lansing was the first city in the United States to ban discrimination in hiring on account of homosexuality. Nearly five decades later, it’s time we update our laws to be more inclusive and ensure no person, including the LGBTQ community, should fear losing their job or be denied services or housing because of who they are,” said Andi Owen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Herman Miller. “This proposal gives everyone the same chance to succeed so that Michigan can be a more attractive, vibrant and thriving place to live, work, and raise a family.”

“Solidarity is for all of us, and that’s why for the last 40 years, the AFL-CIO has supported adding protections for the LGBTQ community to federal law. Just last year, the Michigan AFL-CIO reaffirmed our support for amending state law to include these protections as well,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “We stand against any form of discrimination in the workplace or in the community — no one should be fired or discriminated against because of who they are or who they love. We are dedicated to fighting for a Michigan that’s open and welcoming to all.”

“As the first CEO to offer Congressional testimony on eliminating LGBT workplace discrimination back in 1997, I thought this would be the law of the land by now,” said Raymond Smith, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bell Atlantic, now Verizon Communications. “As I said to Congress then and still believe today: No company can afford to waste the talents and contributions of valuable employees as we compete in a global marketplace. It is good business, and it is good citizenship.”

“Throughout Michigan’s history, Michiganders have believed that if you work hard everyone should be given the same right to succeed,” said Mark Bernstein, President and Managing Partner of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm, PLLC, Regent of the University of Michigan, and former Member, Michigan Civil Rights Commission. “This proposal reflects Michigan’s values that every individual, no matter their sexual orientation and gender identity, deserves respect and dignity.”

“At Whirlpool, we are proud to be one of the majority of Fortune 500 companies that have taken steps to enact policies to prohibit discrimination for LGBTQ employees,” said Jeff Noel, Corporate Vice President at Whirlpool Corporation. “We strive to create an internal workplace culture that allows and encourages its personnel to bring their full selves to work. This means an open, supportive, and inclusive environment where it is possible for LGBTQ employees to feel welcomed.”

“Every Michigander should have an equal chance at success, without threat of being fired, harassed, or demoted just because the boss doesn’t like that they’re gay or transgender,” said Trevor Thomas, Co-Chair and President of Fair and Equal Michigan and Board Chair for Equality Michigan Action, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group. “After waiting 37 years, this effort gives the legislature eight additional months to pass these basic human rights. If they can’t get the job done, our Constitution affords Michiganders the right to vote to ensure that workers are judged on the job they do, not who they are or who they love.”

“Oftentimes in the LGBTQ community we see harm, violence, murder, and discrimination justified through religious bias, but I believe that God has love, grace and mercy sufficient for us all,” said Jeynce Poindexter, Co-Chair Fair and Equal Michigan; LGBTQ Community Advocate and Activist. “It’s important for all of us to come together, not with our politics but with and for people to move this work forward and finally right this wrong.”

“Michigan has the unique opportunity to change and save lives by expanding the state’s non-discrimination law to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation,” said Alanna Maguire, Co-Chair of Fair and Equal Michigan, and President of Fair Michigan, a statewide LGBTQ and women’s advocacy group. “It is my hope and expectation that by banning this kind of discrimination, all Michiganders can lead safer, more productive lives, and our state will be made better for it.”

“Michigan lawmakers have long been asked to protect LGBTQ individuals from job and housing discrimination for decades, ever since the first legislation was introduced in 1983,” said Dr. Mira Jourdan, Co-Chair of Fair and Equal Michigan and a Neuropsychologist. “This proposal would simply add sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to existing Civil Rights law to make sure LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination, under the law, just like everyone else. It is time to finally right this wrong once and for all.”

Honorary Leadership Committee (still growing):

Dr. Mira Jourdan, Co-Chair Fair and Equal Michigan, Neuropsychologist

Alanna Maguire, Co-Chair Fair and Equal Michigan; President, Fair Michigan Foundation

Jeynce Poindexter, Co-Chair Fair and Equal Michigan; LGBTQ Community Activist

Trevor Thomas, Co-Chair Fair and Equal Michigan; Board Chair, Equality Michigan Action

Julisa Abad, Director of Trans Advocacy, Fair Michigan

Tonya Allen, Philanthropic Leader in SE Michigan

Tommy Allen, Publisher, Rapid Growth Media; President, Grand Rapids Pride Center; &

Chair, Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission

Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, NAACP Detroit Branch

Diane Antishin, Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, DTE Energy

Susy Avery, former chair, Michigan Republican Party

Jesse M. Bernal, Ph.D., Vice President for Inclusion and Equity, Grand Valley State University

Mark Bernstein, President, The Sam Bernstein Law Firm, PLLC

Rabbi Amy B. Bigman, Congregation Shaarey Zedek

Randy Block, partner to Gerry Crane

Charity Dean, Director of Civil Rights, Inclusion, and Opportunity, City of Detroit; & Commissioner, Michigan Women’s Commission

Brandon Dillon, former Chair, Michigan Democratic Party

Katie Rogala Fahey

Rev. Leslee Fritz, Albion First United Methodist, former Dep. Dir. of the Dept. of Civil Rights

Hon. Tracy Hall, Kalamazoo County Commissioner and Board Member, OutFront Kalamazoo

Brandon Hofmeister, Senior Vice President, Consumers Energy

Hon. Derek Dobies, Chief of Staff, Michigan AFL-CIO and Mayor of Jackson

Rick Johnson, former Michigan Speaker of the House, 2001 – 2004

Hon. Erin Knott, Executive Director, Equality Michigan Education Fund & Action Network and Mayor Pro-Tem of Kalamazoo

Hon. Mel Larsen, former Member, Michigan House of Representatives and co-sponsor of Michigan’s Civil Rights Act of 1976

Leander LeSure, Executive Vice President, Herman Miller

Richard McLellan, Transition Chairman to Governor John Engler

Ronald Moore, Board Member, Equality Michigan & Equality Federation

Hon. Jason Morgan, Chairman, Washtenaw County Commission

Noreen K. Myers, Employment Attorney, Noreen K. Myers PLC

Chuck Otis, Board Member, Equality Michigan

Travis Radina, President, Jim Toy Community Center and LGBTQ Liasion, Mayor of Ann Arbor

Lilianna Reyes, LGBTQ Advocate

Hon. Andy Schor, Mayor of Lansing

Hon. Joe Schwarz, former Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Angela Thompkins, former Assistant Prosecutor, City of Detroit

Cynthia L. Thornton, President, Pride at Work Michigan and General Board Member, Michigan AFL-CIO

Jim Toy, Co-Founder of the Spectrum Center

Selma Tucker, Vice President, Public Sector Consultants

Louis Vega, President, Dow North America

The Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act was passed in 1976 to prohibit discriminatory practices, policies, and customs in the exercise of those rights based upon religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.

The Fair and Equal Michigan campaign is the next evolution of Michigan’s support for the LGBTQ community. Until 2018, Michigan had barred the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from taking calls reporting discrimination to their hotline. The Commission now is reviewing cases of reported discrimination. Meanwhile, Equality Michigan’s hotline reported 1,000+ calls for help in the past four years.

Once the petition is approved by the Board of State Canvassers, Fair and Equal Michigan has until May 27, 2020, to submit petitions including the signatures of at least 340,047 Michigan voters. Once enough valid signatures are submitted, the Michigan Legislature will have 40 days to adopt the proposed amendments to the Act without change. If the Legislature does not Act, or rejects the proposal, it is submitted to Michigan voters for approval at the November 3, 2020, General Election. According to research by the non-partisan Glengariff Group, 77 percent of voters support the measure.