Fight for gay rights continues in Michigan


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) —Western Michigan’s Cooley Law School hosted a community conversation in honor of pride month.

During the event, people spoke about the fight for equal rights.

News 8 spoke with Jay Kaplan, a lawyer who sat on the panel, about the progress that’s been made and the things that still need to happen.

“Our state’s civil rights law does not explicitly mention sexual orientation or gender identity,” Kaplan said.

He said there also isn’t any federal laws that explicitly protect people who are LGBT, and that the Equality Act, which has not yet been passed, would do so.

“Discrimination still occurs against LGBT people,” he said. “Not only in employment, but in housing and education and in public accommodations, and the discrimination is really pervasive against the transgender community.”

He said state legislatures are trying to pass laws that targets transgender youth.

“In Michigan, we have a bill introduced that would prevent transgender students from being able to play in high school sports in accordance to their gender identity,” he said.

He said it’s important for LGBT allies to speak up.

“We need our allies to speak out against LGBT discrimination,” Kaplan said. “It’s important for the ally voices to be there to say …  I believe this is the right thing to do, this is my son, this is my daughter, this is my friend, this is my neighbor, this is my colleague at work. Their voice is so powerful in the civil rights movement.”

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