Advocates hold "intense joy" as bill to expand LGBTQ+ protections continues in the state senate
The proposed legislation would expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.
Out On The Lakeshore (OOTL) has stood at the forefront of LGBTQ+ rights in West Michigan for years – notably helping to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance in the City of Holland in 2020.
Today, Executive Director, Kate Leighton-Colburn, said eyes are focused on the state level, as a bill expanding protections of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, makes its way to the senate-floor. Under the legislation, protections would include sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Michigan is such an incredible place to work and to live and to play,” Leighton-Colburn said. “…None of that is true for LBGTQ+ folks unless we have equal protections under the law, and this senate bill will allow LGBTQ+ Michiganders to experience the joys of living in Michigan.”
Leighton-Colburn added even with nondiscrimination ordinances in surrounding cities, her group is seeing resistance over LGBTQ+ inclusion on West Michigan’s lakeshore. It’s something she hopes could overtime be altered by this statewide regulation.
“We’ve had so much push back at the local level recently, and it’s been really disheartening. So, seeing this movement at the state level really gives me a lot of hope that diversity, and equity, and inclusion and belonging will win out in the end.”
While the bill passed through a senate committee vote Thursday, there was still opposition from Republicans -- one voting no and another abstaining.
Michigan State Senator Jim Runestad, a Republican of White Lake, offered an amendment to add a religious exemption to the bill, but it was rejected.
The next stop is a senate vote, which it’s expected to pass as Democrats hold the majority.