By: Tracy Haygood & Sarah Collins
Imagine this: A woman is denied employment because she is a woman. A Latino couple is denied housing because of their ethnicity. A 55-year-old man is fired because of his age. Imagining these situations is impossible because they are all illegal. Why then should it be legal for a person to be denied the rights of employment or housing because of their sexual orientation?
I live in Michigan and I have come to realize that the LGBT community in my state has no rights or protections from bullying and discrimination. I keep telling myself times are changing and Michigan will catch up eventually. I decided to do a little research which only ended up making me angrier. And so I reacted by creating a petition to lobby for LGBT rights in Michigan.
Here is what I found:
Michigan started out on the right path when East Lansing became the first town in the United States to pass an ordinance prohibiting discriminatory hiring practices based on sexual orientation. Many of Michigan cities have passed their own anti-discrimination ordinances. However, there is currently a bill in the works to make it illegal for local authorities to pass anti-discrimination ordinances. Michigan’s government workers receive protections in the workplace, but the average citizen receives nothing. Recently equal rights took a step back with the help of Gov. Rick Snyder. Before he passed his bill, LGBT employees at certain businesses could add their partners to their insurance. After the bill passed that right was stripped away and numerous people lost insurance. Once again big government was meddling in areas where they should have no power.
Michigan’s state government is not LGBT friendly, even though the cities, other local elected officials, and a fair number of our people think equal rights are needed. Over sixty-five local elected officials have signed a petition to change the current laws to include speech protecting the LGBT community from discrimination and harassment. Unfortunately, the state is not listening.
Consequences of having a “nontraditional” sexual orientation:
1. In Michigan you can be fired for being LGBT.
2. You can be denied housing for being LGBT.
3. Michigan is one of only four states that prohibit adoption by same-sex couples.
4. Michigan does not have any type of laws for hate crime that includes sexual orientation (1 of 18 states that expressly leave out sexual orientation from hate crime law).
5. Michigan has a civil rights bill they are working on now that DOES NOT include discrimination against LGBT (it does cover religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, and marital status).
6. You can be bullied, harassed, threatened, and subjected to slurs. As long as it does not get physical, it’s not a crime because there are no laws to protect us in Michigan.
7. Michigan banned same-sex marriage and domestic partnership.
These issues have affected me and people I know. I have a lot of health problems and I have to get special paperwork and permission for my partner to have access to me when in the hospital, having surgery or anything else. She is the one person most familiar with my medical problems. Although she does not have the right to be my wife, she should have all the rights that marriage entails. I cannot adopt in Michigan; it makes me incredibly angry that anyone has the right to judge me and find me unworthy of being a loving parent without even knowing me. Why deny a child who has no one to love them a lifetime of love (like the children on the website www.mare.org)?
When my partner and I rented a studio apartment, I couldn’t be on the lease because the rental company said there could only be a “married couple or single person on the lease.”
I have a friend who was harassed nonstop for several months by neighbors who put signs up next to the road with their names on them, describing them doing sexual acts. The police said it was free speech. It took several calls to the police, attorney general’s office, and, finally, threats of legal action, to get them taken down. Every day for months they heard anti-gay slurs and threats yelled at them: the police called it free speech. This went on for months, and included having the oil drained out of vehicles, screens taken off windows, and threats with knives. There were several witnesses to these threats but it always came down to freedom of speech. Calling the attorney general did nothing because, in their words, Michigan does not have laws to protect LGBT people and until then they really can’t do anything but file a report.
This is unacceptable. It’s time for change. It’s time to let our lawmakers know we are not putting up with being treated this way anymore. We may not have a loud voice individually, but together we have the power of change in our hands! I need your help to fix this. Let’s demand EQUAL RIGHTS FOR EVERYONE!
Please give us a moment of your time and help us out by signing our petition —> Demanding LGBT Rights in Michigan
Thank you for standing up for social justice and equal rights!