LANSING — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat sworn in on Jan. 1, has signed a directive strengthening protections for LGBTQ people with state employment, contracting and services.
From the Detroit Free Press:
The directive, signed at Affirmations, an LGBTQ community resource center in Ferndale, is the latest in a series of directives signed by Whitmer, a Democrat, since she took office Jan. 1.
Monday’s directive goes further than a directive signed by former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder shortly before he left office at the end of 2018. Snyder’s December directive barred state contractors from discriminating against gay or transgender employees, but it included an exemption for churches and other religious organizations. Whitmer’s directive includes no such exemption.
“If we’re going to attract the talented workforce our businesses need to create jobs and grow our economy, then we’ve got to get on the right side of history,” Whitmer said in a news release. “That’s what this executive directive is all about.”
Though the Michigan Legislature has not amended the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity, and former Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette said the law does not do so, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission determined last year that the ban in the statute on discrimination on the basis of “sex” includes a ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity.
Whitmer said she incorporates that expanded definition in her executive directive.
Whitmer defeated Schuette in November’s governor’s race.
Michigan’s out lesiban attorney general Dana Nessel praised the action.
The state LGBTQ rights group Equality Michigan also praised the directive.
“Modernizing Michigan’s policies to make it clear that discrimination against LGBTQ people will not be tolerated is long overdue,” said Erin Knott, Equality Michigan Interim Executive Director. “We are proud to stand alongside Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as she does everything in her power to protect Michigan’s LGBTQ community from discrimination. This is a welcome solution to a problem that our community has faced for far too long, but it is not a substitute for a legislative expansion of the state’s civil rights protections to include the LGBTQ community.