The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 was meant to end discrimination based on race, colour, religion, or national origin. It is often called the most important U.S. law on civil rights since Reconstruction (1865–77) and is a hallmark of the American civil rights movement.
However, written as they were, others have made multiple attempts at discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community based on interpretation of keys words and phrasing.
Nondiscrimination Ordinance in Jackson, Michigan
In 2017, Jackson, Michigan's City Council voted to adopt (5 to 2) its Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO), which offer protections against discrimination to our LGBTQ community. For more info on how it works, view the actual document, and information on how to file a complaint against a potential violation against the NDO, visit our Advocacy Page for more info.
LGBTQ Nondiscrimination in Michigan
There are currently no statewide nondiscrimination laws establishing LGBTQ non-discrimination in Michigan. LGBTQ Michiganders are currently protected by an interpretive statement from the state Civil Rights Commission that defines sex discrimination as including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
51 Cities, Townships, and Villages have full comprehensive Non-Discrimination Ordinances (NDO) protections in place. Only one county (Wayne County) in Michigan has these complete protections, whereas Ingham and Washtenaw counties prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in government employment.
The Latest on LGBTQ Nondiscrimination in Michigan
Work continues, in the legislature and in communities throughout Michigan, to bring Michigan’s laws in line with the values of its residents, who strongly support protecting LGBTQ Michiganders from discrimination. Specifically, advocates are pushing for an update to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act so that the law protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Adding LGBTQ Protections under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976
In 1976, Michigan first passed the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or
marital status. Mel Larsen, former member of the Michigan House of Representatives & co-author of the Civil Rights Act stated in a Lansing State Journal Opinion piece, "Back when our state’s civil rights law was passed, people were not forthcoming about sexual orientation or gender identity. Today, these topics are mainstream. Nearly everyone in Michigan has a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor who currently faces the risk of legal discrimination."
Fair and Equal Michigan, a grass-roots coalition, starting in January 2020 sought to collect 340,000+ signatures and was successful facing two obstacles, COVID-19 and a controversy between LGBTQ leaders regarding LGBTQ rights being put to a vote. In 2021, the group continues with its efforts, as enough signatures have been collected for evaluation by the Michigan Secretary of State. Should the signatures be accepted, the language of the amendment will be decided by state legislature, and could appear on the 2022 ballot for the people of Michigan to decide.
Fair and Equal Michigan Co-Chair, Trevor Thomas stated “We believe that the language we put forward is the best good public policy for Michigan. Yes, it added sexual orientation and gender identity and expression as the definition of sex, but we also provided an additional definition to religion, one that protects [the] religious beliefs of an individual. We did this to be crystal clear that everyone is at the table together. Religion is a protected class and we’re trying to do the right thing.”
From cases where LGBTQ Americans could secure greater protections to cases where the LGBTQ movement must defend long-held protections, litigation is being filed and pursued at a rapid pace. These cases are being closely watched.