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Michigan will soon pass “historic” law banning anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination

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The Michigan Senate has passed a law banning anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination throughout the state. The bill now returns to the state House where it is expected to pass. State Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has expressed support for signing the bill into law.

The law, initially known as Senate Bill 4, adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination based on individual characteristics in housing, employment, and public accommodation in public services and educational facilities, Bridge Michigan reported.

State Sen. Jeremy Moss (D), the state’s first out gay senator, said of his bill, “This baton has been passed on from generation to generation of LGBTQ activists… Real Michiganders suffer from real acts of discrimination…for no other reason other than their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Had it not been for their courage to come forward to bring much-needed attention to these wrongs, we could not have progressed to this moment,” he added.

In 21 states and the District of Columbia, state law protects LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. However, 27 states offer no explicit statewide laws against LGBTQ+ discrimination.

Similar bills have failed in the state legislature for decades under Republican leadership. However, Democrats now have a majority in both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. The bill also had the support of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Business Leaders for Michigan, and other civil rights activists.

At a February 24 LGBTQ+ roundtable with legislators and stakeholders, Whitmer signaled that she would sign the bill.

“That is going to be the foundational moment where we are really saying in Michigan all people are protected and respected under the law,” Whitmer told the roundtable, adding that “bigotry is bad for business” in the state.

Predictably, Republicans opposed the bill over fears that it would force religious people and business owners “to do things against our will,” Sen. Lana Theis (R) said in a Senate floor speech. Republicans sought to add an amendment to the bill that would include anti-discrimination protections for “religious orientation, religious identity, and religious expression.”

There is no such thing as “religious orientation” because religiosity is a personal choice rather than in-born. Several studies have shown that religious parents pressure their underage children into accepting their beliefs. Regardless, the Republican amendment failed to pass.

The bill’s Democratic supporters say they’d like to formally repeal the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Though the ban was invalidated by the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, it could go back into effect if the nation’s highest court ever overturns the 2015 decision.

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