Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Thursday signed Senate Bill No. 4, which incorporates LGBTQ rights into Michigan’s civil rights law. This bill broadens the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), which was passed in 1976 and drafted by Mel Larsen (Republican) and Daisy Elliot (Democrat). The act originally prohibited discriminatory practices or policies against individuals based on religion, race, nationality or age. This bill amends the act to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
The new bill outlines that employers, schools, real estate brokers, political subdivisions and other public bodies are prohibited from inquiring or advertising about an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Furthermore, under the legislation, businesses and landlords cannot deny services or goods based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Executive Governor’s office released a statement calling the new bill a “long overdue step” and calling Michigan “the place that will fight for your freedom to be yourself.” The Detroit Regional Chamber supported the ELCRA and issued a coalition letter to support the act’s expansion, which businesses across Michigan have agreed to implement. Also, this new law will allow citizens to file complaints to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights if they feel that they have been discriminated against in various public bodies. Similar bills were unsuccessful when Republicans controlled the chambers, and with this new expansion of the ELCRA, there could be significant pushback from republican faith-based organizations.