We are living in a time when the differences among us are highlighted and used as weapons on every front, every single day.
That must change.
This month, we are calling on organizations like ours, who serve all Michiganders, to commit to supporting the fight for LGBTQ equality in Michigan.
Planned Parenthood serves 60,000 people across the state, and that is a diverse population: gay, straight, trans, genderqueer, bisexual, male-identifying and female-identifying.
Just as we fight for basic health care coverage because we believe it is a basic human right, and because it is so important to the lives of the people we serve, so too we stand with our allies to extend civil rights to LGBTQ Michiganders because we believe all the people we serve should have the protection of basic civil rights.
The Michigan Civil Rights Commission recently ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is already illegal under current Michigan law, and we wholeheartedly support and applaud that ruling.
But we also know that conservatives will continue to challenge that interpretation in court — and no one’s basic human rights should be subject to litigation.
We’ve seen what happens when organizations like Planned Parenthood band together with others on issues that impact the majority of Americans. Three times, we were able to stop the repeal of the ACA and preserve access to health care for those who otherwise would be forced to forego basic, life saving medical care for want of the income to buy insurance. Here in Michigan, a diverse coalition of groups focused on different issues and audiences banded together to defeat the repeal of the state’s income tax — because it impacted the people we serve, not because revenue policy is in our mission statement.
We’ve always been allies, but now is the time for ACTION.
What can you do to as an organization, community group or engaged citizen?
1. Support the expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. This law 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. But it doesn’t prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, leaving our LGBTQ community without key protections the rest of the population enjoys. Every year, legislative allies introduce bills to expand Elliott Larsen, and every year, they languish. We should all inform our members about the lack of protection and rights guaranteed to the LGBTQ community, and encourage them to engage on the issue by lobbying their lawmakers to do the right thing.
2. Support leaders who believe in equality. Led by AG Bill Schuette, the current administration has wasted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars fighting against LGBTQ civil rights, from refusing domestic partner benefits to defending the state’s unconstitutional ban on same sex adoption. Our governor continues to sign laws that violate the basic rights of LGBTQ persons, including allowing religious-based adoption groups to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. We need to have people in office who support equality and will stand up and fight back against attacks on civil rights, and they will only get there if we elect them.
3. Vote. We know a majority of Michiganders share our values and believe that in the full equality of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. In fact, many people don’t even know that this type of discrimination is still allowed in our state. By asking the right questions of the people who seek our support and votes for public office, we can ensure that we have the right people in the seats to make that votes to achieve full equality. We have the power to make it happen, and it all begins with voting.
As we celebrate Pride Month in communities across the state, let us all stand up, take action and make our voices heard. The time for full equality is now.