The state of Michigan will now see any form of discrimination which is based on gender identity or sexual orientation as a punishable offense.
This past Wednesday, lawmakers in Michigan officially made LGBTQ+ discrimination a civil rights violation via the passing of Senate Bill 4 and the piece of legislation that goes along with it, House Bill 4003. This new piece of legislation will now be sent out to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for a signature and is expected to get one. Whitmer has been vocally praising the passage of the new pieces of legislation in a recent statement and on social media; the governor has consistently advocated throughout her administration for even more expansions to the state LGBTQ+ protections in order to encompass prohibitions on any discriminatory behavior.
“[This legislation] will help ensure Michiganders can’t be fired from their job or evicted from their home based on who they love or how they identify,” explained Whitmer. “This is about doing the right thing, and it is just good economics. Bigotry is bad for business, and ensuring these protections will build on our reputation as a beacon of opportunity where anyone can succeed.”
No one should be fired from their job or evicted from their home because of who they are. For years, I’ve been calling for changes to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to strengthen legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community.
I'm proud that we’re finally getting it done.
— Gretchen Whitmer (@gretchenwhitmer) March 9, 2023
Now under Michigan law, the punishments for civil rights violations could include basic civil fines in the range of $10,000 for the first violation to well over $50,000 for two or more violations that take place within a period of seven years, as well as any other relief that the civil rights commission for the state elects to be appropriate.
The original author of this new piece of legislation was Senate President Pro Tempore Jeremy Moss (D-LD07).
What a moment. pic.twitter.com/SEWdqCs4ep
— Senator Jeremy Moss (@JeremyAllenMoss) March 8, 2023
This bill from miss was able to pass through the Senate with a vote of 23-15 as of Wednesday while the House version made it through with a vote of 64-45 the same day. Moss, along with their fellow Democrat Senators resisted a number of amendments that attempted to offer up greater religious protections because of concerns that the bill would end up punishing those who choose to uphold their religious beliefs. Moss made the claim that the expansion would not end up resulting in people being forced to go against their religious beliefs.
“Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the act will not compel a church to marry an LGBTQ couple,” explained Moss. “But adherents of a religion are required to follow neutral, generally-applicable laws.”
However, Moss then went on to imply that not every single interpretation or claim of religious beliefs should be marked as valid.
“Clearly some of you still want to use one verse in Leviticus to discriminate against LGBTQ people. But if you were truly sincere, a true sincere adherent to Leviticus, and you let it define how you treat other people, let it instead be the verse that rabbi Akiva, the ancient Jewish scholar and chief of the sages said was the greatest principle of the Torah […] love thy neighbor as thyself, that it is forbidden to do others what you would not want done to yourself. Treat others how you would want to be treated. I studied the Torah in Hebrew school; you’re not going to challenge me on the Old Testament. Just the fact that some of you can forget that simple principle, that’s what some might call sacrilegious.”
For far too long, #LGBTQ Michiganders could not seek justice after enduring discrimination because we were excluded from our state’s civil rights act.
In a historic vote today, the Michigan Senate passed my bill to expand the act and liberate our community. ????️????????️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/heEhTktKe9
— Senator Jeremy Moss (@JeremyAllenMoss) March 1, 2023