Whitmer will lobby GOP leaders on LGBTQ rights bill

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LANSING, Mich (WLNS) — Amid National LGBTQ Pride Month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is pushing legislation to expand Michigan’s civil rights law to include the LGBTQ community.  

Sexual orientation and gender identity aren’t included in the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which means LGBT people aren’t protected from being evicted, fired and discriminated against. Despite strong support from the business community, efforts to remedy this have failed under previous administrations.

Whitmer, two gay lawmakers and others are renewing efforts to change the law, but two key lawmakers stand in the way: House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake.

“Everyone is educable,” Whitmer said Tuesday when asked if she would approach the GOP leaders on the issue, prompting laughter in the room. “Now, gosh, they’re going to say we’re at war. We are not at war.”

But she and the two leaders are at odds. She pledged to lobby them.

“These are wrongs we’re trying to right because it’s good for the people of our state when we put the politics aside and put people first,” Whitmer said. “And so yes, of course, I’m going to be talking with the leaders.”

But House Republican floor leader Triston Cole of Mancelona is voting no.

“Everybody should be treated equal, but I’m not interested in making any changes at this point in time,” Rep. Cole said. “It’s unnecessary at this point in time.”

If the effort fails again in the Legislature, proponents have not ruled out launching a statewide petition drive to send the issue to voters.

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