LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Michigan:
There are currently no explicit statewide non-discrimination laws establishing LGBTQ non-discrimination in Michigan. LGBTQ Michiganders are currently protected by an interpretive statement from the state Civil Rights Commission that defines sex discrimination as including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
The Latest on LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Michigan:
Work continues, in the legislature and in communities throughout Michigan, to bring Michigan’s laws in line with the values of its residents, who strongly support protecting LGBTQ Michiganders from discrimination. Specifically, advocates are pushing for an update to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act so that the law protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
History of LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Michigan:
- March 7, 1972: East Lansing becomes the first community in the United States to protect residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation when the City Council approved a policy outlining that the Council would “employ the best applicant for each vacancy on the basis of his qualifications for the job and without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, sex or homosexuality.”
- 1976: The Michigan Legislature passes the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status in employment, housing, education, and access to public accommodations.
- 1978: Ann Arbor passes a city-wide ordinance, becoming the first city in Michigan to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. One year later, in January 1979, Detroit follows suit, becoming one of the largest cities in the country with an ordinance protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. In the following years, many other cities and counties do the same.
- 1978-2003: Local and national organizations engage in conversations about who LGBTQ Michiganders are, and support for fully comprehensive non-discrimination grows.
- December 24, 2003: Governor Jennifer Granholm issues an executive order protecting state employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- 2003-2015: Many cities, boroughs and townships throughout Michigan pass local ordinances protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The local ordinances build momentum toward statewide legislation.
- June 16, 2005: For the first time, support for updating the ELCRA to protect Michiganders from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity takes the form of a bill, which is introduced by Rep. Chris Kolb (D – Ann Arbor). While the bill does not pass, it continues an important conversation in Michigan about updating the state’s non-discrimination protections to include LGBT people.
- November 21, 2007: Governor Jennifer Granholm issues an executive order protecting state employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.
- November 6, 2014: Freedom Michigan, the campaign to update the ELCRA and protect all people from discrimination in Michigan, is launched with support from the LGBTQ community, faith leaders, grassroots activists, and dozens of Michigan businesses and business leaders.
- May 21, 2018: The Michigan Civil Rights Commission adopts an interpretive statement that defines sex discrimination as including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, broadening the power of the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
- July 12, 2018: Dana and Kristy Dumont, a lesbian couple represented by the ACLU, head to court challenging a Michigan law that allows private and publicly-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people by claiming a religious or moral objection.
- September 14, 2018: A Michigan district court judge rules that the case of Dumont v. Lyon can proceed.
- January 7, 2019: Newly-elected Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs an executive order prohibiting discrimination against state employees and contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
- August 20, 2020: The city of Holland passes its local nondiscrimination ordinance by an 8-1 vote after a seven-hour meeting.
Executive orders signed by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm in 2003 and 2007 prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, respectively, in state employment.
Municipalities with Non-Discrimination Protections:
The following municipalities protect people from discrimination in employment on the basis of their sexual orientation:
- City of Grand Ledge
The following municipalities protect people from discrimination in employment on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression:
- Canton Township
- City of Adrian
- City of Albion
- City of Ann Arbor
- City of Battle Creek
- City of Cadillac
- City of Chelsea
- City of Dearborn Heights
- City of Detroit
- City of East Grand Rapids
- City of East Lansing
- City of Farmington Hills
- City of Fenton
- City of Ferndale
- City of Grand Rapids
- City of Holland
- City of Huntington Woods
- City of Kalamazoo
- City of Jackson
- City of Lansing
- City of Linden
- City of Marquette
- City of Mt. Pleasant
- City of Muskegon
- City of Novi
- City of Pleasant Ridge
- City of Royal Oak
- City of Saugatuck
- City of Southfield
- City of Trenton
- City of Wayland
- City of Ypsilanti
- Delhi Township
- Delta Charter Township
- Kalamazoo Township
- Lathrup Village
- Meridian Township
- Oshtemo Township
- Saugatuck Township
- Traverse City
- Union Township
- Village of Douglas
- City of Saline
Businesses Leading the Charge Against Discrimination:
The Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition is organizing businesses small and large across the state in support of protecting all Michiganders from discrimination – because it’s the right thing to do and it’s essential for a vibrant, growing economy. The coalition was founded by the following Michigan employers: AT&T, Consumers Energy, The Dow Chemical Company, Google, Herman Miller, PADNOS, Steelcase, Strategic Staffing Solutions, and Whirlpool Corporation.
Last Updated August 21, 2020
A July 2015 from Public Policy Polling found that 68% of respondents supported updating Michigan law to protect LGBT people from discrimination.
Rouch World v. Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights
Case Challenging State's Interpretation of Nondiscrimination LawKey Date: February 13, 2020 • Initial Complaint Filed
Status: Undergoing Briefing in Michigan State Court
Type: Public Accommodations Discrimination
The case was filed against the Michigan Department of Civil Rights by a private park and wedding venue in Michigan who denied service to a same-sex couple because of their sexual orientation. The venue argues that the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act doesn’t protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.Read More
Dumont v. Lyon
Case Concerning Adoption Agencies' Ability to Deny Service to LGBTQ PeopleKey Date: March 22, 2019 • Settlement Reached
Legal Team: ACLU
Type: Other LGBT Litigation
Dumont v. Lyon is a case challenging a Michigan law that allows state-funded adoption agencies to cite religion as a reason for turning away foster parents or adoptive parents based on their sexual orientation.Read More
R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC
Case Concerning Employment Discrimination Based on Gender Identity Under Title VIIKey Date: June 15, 2020 • Supreme Court Rules 6-3 In Favor of Defendant
Status: U.S. Supreme Court Has Ruled
Legal Team: EEOC & ACLU
Type: Employment Discrimination
The U.S. Supreme Court rules 6-3 in favor of EEOC and Aimee Stephens and in two other LGBTQ workplace discrimination cases (Altitude Express v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County), definitively stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.Read More
Country Mill Farms v. City of East Lansing
Case Seeking Religious Exemption from LGBTQ Non-Discrimination LawsKey Date: September 15, 2017 • Order Issued in Favor of Plaintiffs
Status: Order Issued in Favor of Plaintiffs
Legal Team: Alliance Defending Freedom
Type: Public Accommodations Discrimination
The business owner would like to participate in farmer's markets within East Lansing, but in doing so would like to be exempt from abiding by the city's LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.Read More