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State Democrats continue call to expand Michigan's civil rights protections to include LGBTQ people

Democratic Representative Jon Hoadley (left) and Democratic Senator Jeremy Moss (right) are bill sponsors.
Cheyna Roth
/
Michigan Radio
Democratic Representative Jon Hoadley (left) and Democratic Senator Jeremy Moss (right) are bill sponsors.

Some lawmakers have been trying for decades to expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. New bills would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in the act. That would mean that people could not be denied housing or be fired simply because they are LGBTQ.

Supporters say they think this will be the year the protections cross the finish line. Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) said LGBTQ people now have a friend in the governor’s office and more Republicans are on board with the proposal than before.

Listen above to hear Stateside's conversation with bill co-sponsor State Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield).

Jeynce Poindexter is a transgender advocate at Equality Michigan and calls herself a “proud trans woman of color.” She spoke at a press conference ahead of the introduction of the bills.

“I thank you for including me, I thank you for being intentional about supporting the work that we do and supporting me because my life depends on it,” she said.

Last year, the state’s civil rights commission announced that its interpretation of the law includes LGBTQ protections. However, Representative Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) says that’s not enough.

“We need to make sure that we put pen to paper,” he said. “That we put our values into the laws of Michigan so there is never a question about, ‘will I have protection.'”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has a history of opposing the expansion without protections for religious freedom in the Constitution, but he said he will let the Legislative process play out.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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