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Snyder Joins Business Leaders Calling for Civil Rights Protections for Gays

A coalition of Michigan businesses says expanding the civil rights code to protect gays against discrimination in employment is a key to the state’s economic recovery.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said at the Mackinac Policy Conference that he supports adding protections for gays to the state's civil rights law. (Photo: Getty Images)
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said at the Mackinac Policy Conference that he supports adding protections for gays to the state's civil rights law. (Photo: Getty Images)
Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer isn’t sure who to thank – “the business community, the election year or an honest ideological progression” – but she joined others who praised Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for urging Michigan lawmakers to include protections for gays in the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Snyder, who previously has opposed domestic partner benefits for state employees and same-sex marriage, said Thursday he supports  a civil rights amendment that would make it illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation, The Detroit News reports.

“... I am glad to see that the governor is finally on board with offering basic civil rights protections to all Michigan citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Whitmer said in a statement.

The governor’s announcement came during the second day of the Mackinac Policy Conference, where the Chrysler Group, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce said they were joining the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition, which asking for an amendment to the 1976 civil rights law.

Employers backing the amendment to the decades old civil rights code say its important to help Michigan remain a competitive edge in employment, especially as the state works toward economic recovery from the Great Recession.

That coalition includes some of the state’s biggest and most influential employers, including AT&T Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Consumers Energy, Dow Chemical Co., Google, Herman Miller, PADNOS, Steelcase, Strategic Staffing Solutions and Whirlpool Corp., MLive/The Lansing News reports.

The law currently protects citizens against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on their religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status and marital status, but doesn’t address sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

After Snyder’s announcement, another high-profile Republican, U.S. Senate hopeful Terri Lynn Land, said in an interview with The Detroit News that she’s on board, too.

Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger, a Marshall Republican, told the newspaper he supports the amendment, but the challenge will be in striking a balance between protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in the workplace while still recognizing the liberties of people who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds.

Among the chief critics of expanding the civil rights code is American Family Association of Michigan, a conservative group that challenged Bolger when he signaled support for the amendment a year ago.

The group’s president, Gary Glenn, said at the time that if the state protected gays and lesbians against discrimination in its civil rights code, it would be discriminating against others whose freedom of speech and religion rights allow them to condemn homosexuality, The Detroit News said.

Tell Us:
  • Do you think protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation should e added to Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act?
RON Ostrodamus May 31, 2014 at 12:55 AM
Pure hokum if you are an atheist, or agnostic. Jesus H its so damn arrogant to push your beliefs on others. The religious right over here is no better than what we call Islamic extremists over there. One mans Jihad is another's Crusade, or Pogrom. You have the right to condemn just like I condemn most Republicans, but you do not have the right to discriminate against or deny any citizen the very same right(s) you enjoy under law.
MaryLynn Bertetto May 31, 2014 at 05:38 AM
Having anal sex not only isn't a right under law, it is actually AGAINST the law in many places.
Dale Behler May 31, 2014 at 09:06 AM
Ron.....And what are pro-gay supporters doing? They "push their beliefs on others." No different than what they accuse Christians of doing. People with gay agendas spew deep hatred against anyone, especially Christians, who dare oppose them. There is a moral issue here which they selfishly refuse to acknowledge. But I do believe the gay agenda will win, and our country will suffer the consequences of not having a moral spiritual compass to guide it. Hate me if you like, but that is my honest opinion.
Jay Charles June 02, 2014 at 05:46 PM
Against the law? Not since the 2003 Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558.
Robert June 06, 2014 at 08:50 PM
Gay people are intolerant

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