Governor Rick Snyder tried to protect the LGBT community by writing them into Michigan’s anti-discrimination law during the 8 years he was in office. However, the Republicans and Conservatives shot it down.
Snyder announced on Friday that he signed an executive directive on Thursday that stated that companies looking for grants, loans or contracts from Michigan have to agree that they cannot discriminate against employees who are LGBT. Snyder has four days left to his term-limited position. Churches and other 501(C)3 religious organization are exempt from the law.
The exemption of religious organizations is a carryover from a law he signed in 2015 that stated religious adoption agencies can deny working with parents who are gay. He also was reluctant to defend the battle over Michigan’s same-sex ban on marriage that the U.S.Supreme Court overturned.
Snyder stated that the government must be open to welcome all. In addition, government must ensure people are treated respectfully and fairly. Economic prosperity depends on those who choose to work and live in the state.
CEO’s of businesses have been stating that when Michigan permits discrimination for privately hired employees and allows housing biases based on who an individual chooses to have a relationship with or the gender they feel most comfortable identifying with prevents the most qualified and talented individuals from obtaining the job which ultimately hurts the business.
Prior to the executive directive the Civil Service Commission of Michigan prohibits state employees to be discriminated against due to their sexual orientation.
The laws of Michigan does not specifically have a clause that protects the LGBT community from private sector discrimination.
Michigan Department of Civil Rights has been investigating complaints after the state interpreted a statute already in place to have some protections for the community.
Synder encouraged legislature to support the 1975 Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. He wanted discrimination protection for the LGBT community. Gov. elect Gretchen Whitmer has stated she will push for this addition to the law.
Equality Michigan is the state’s largest advocacy group for the LGBT community. Their interim executive director Erin Knott states that she is happy that Snyder tried to build on former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm executive actions that she put in place in 2003 and 2007. Knott also stated that the new executive order is a first step that is important to help make Michigan a fair, safe and equal place for the LGBT community.
She also stated that legislative action is still needed and therefore the new law is not a substitute. The agency wants to work with the new legislature that comes into office in 2019 to help pass a Elliot- Larsen Civil Rights Act amendment.
Michigan’s ACLU warns that a foster or adoption agency run by a religious organization that has state contracts can fire an LGBT employee based on their sexual preference. The ACLU also stated that the LGBT community can still be discriminated against, and the wording of the executive directive needs to be changed.
The ACLU stated that they look forward to working with Gov. elect Gretchen Whitmer who is a Democrat. They hope to work with Whitmer to fix the wording of the executive order because of the exemption that is written into it.
The Secretary of State and the Department of the Attorney General do not have to comply with Snyder’s Executive Order though Synder has encouraged them to comply voluntarily.
Democrat Attorney General elect Dana Nessel will become the first openly gay official in the history of Michigan.
Written By Barbara Sobel
The Detroit News: Snyder bans LGBT discrimination through state contracts
WXYZ Detroit: Snyder moves to bar LGBT discrimination by state contractors
PinkNews: Michigan governor signs directive banning LGBT discrimination before leaving office
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