Sexual orientation not a protected class in MI

(AP Photo/Jaime Henry-White)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Wednesday night, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have would have allowed businesses the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers based on religious beliefs.

That is currently allowed in Michigan — though here, religious beliefs do not need to be asserted.

“LGBT people are regularly fired from their jobs; harassed in their jobs. They are regularly denied places to rent based on who their partners are; based on whether they are expressing themselves as too feminine or masculine,” Emily Dievendorf, the managing director of Equality Michigan, said.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can also be kicked out of restaurants or denied hotel rooms based on their orientation, Dievendorf says.

That is because there is no law in Michigan to prevent those things from happening.

Michigan does have a civil rights law that states it is illegal to discriminate against people in housing, employment and public accommodation based on their religion, race, ethnicity, age, sex, marital status and even height and weight.

“The only people left out of Michigan protections are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community,” Dievendorf said.

Equality Michigan says it hears from members of the LGBT community daily about discrimination.

“We are hearing these discrimination complaints. The reason the average person doesn’t hear about the complaints is because, under the law, we can’t do anything about them,” Dievendorf said.

While the state has not taken action to make sexual orientation a protected class in Michigan, some municipalities have.

Thirty-two municipalities across the state have passed added LGBT people to their discrimination ordinances.

“For every step forward that we make towards equality, we have to be cognizant that there are those people that are trying to dig their heels in. Those people who are afraid of change can be very dangerous,” Dievendorf said.



Day 2 of the federal trial regarding gay marriage in Michigan

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