RELEASE: PHOTOS: Gov. Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Legislation Expanding Rights and Freedoms for LGBTQ+ Michiganders

Governor Whitmer Header



March 16, 2023



Gov. Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Legislation Expanding Rights and Freedoms for LGBTQ+ Michiganders  


LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer was joined by Attorney General Dana Nessel, Senator Jeremy Moss, Representative Jason Hoskins, and other legislators, advocates, and allies to sign legislation expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA). The bill reaffirms legal protections for sexual orientation and expands coverage to include gender identity and expression.  


"Today, we are taking a long overdue step to ensure that no one can be fired from their job or evicted from their home because of who they are or how they identify,” said Governor Whitmer. "Our LGBTQ+ friends, family, and neighbors deserve equal protection under the law so they can live their authentic lives, and I want everyone to know that Michigan is a place that will fight for your freedom to be yourself. Guaranteeing equal legal protections to LGBTQ+ Michiganders is the right thing to do. It’s also just good economics, which is why business groups from across our state stand with us. Getting this done will help attract and retain talent from across the nation, and I am proud that Michigan today is more free and fair than it was yesterday.” 


Originally passed in 1976, ELCRA prohibits discriminatory practices, policies, and customs in the exercise of those rights based upon religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. Today’s changes to the ELCRA further protect the rights and freedoms of Michiganders by including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in the plain language of the act.  


“Today, we are building on decades of work by advocates, activists, and allies to deliver real change and send a message that you can be yourself in Michigan,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to strengthen protections for sexual orientation and gender identity or expression will prevent Michiganders from being fired from their job or evicted from their home because of who they are or how they identify. It will recognize and reaffirm that Michigan is at its strongest when every individual is respected and empowered. Governor Whitmer and I will keep working hard to build a Michigan where everyone can thrive.”  


“For more than forty long years, “amending Elliott-Larsen” has been the battle cry of our community,” said State Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield). “This moment is so long overdue and too many LGBTQ people suffered on this journey to get here. They were waiting for a Legislature with the courage to stand up to hate and stand up for equality. They were waiting members from our own community to tell our story in the chambers of the State Capitol. And they were waiting for a governor like Gretchen Whitmer to sign this bill. For them and for us, this day has finally arrived: equal protection under the law.” 


“Today is a day for celebration. I know in my heart that the work people have done to make this 50-year dream a reality will strengthen our community into the future,” said State Rep. Jason Hoskins (D-Southfield). “Michigan is a better, more welcoming place today and I know that LGBTQ+ people, particularly LGBTQ+ people of color, have a better future because of this. I am so grateful to everyone involved.” 


“No person in this State should experience barriers to employment, housing, education, or public accommodations and services because of who they are or who they love,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel I have long fought for equal treatment under the law and am grateful to finally see those protections explicitly spelled out within our state’s statutes.  I’d like to thank Senator Jeremy Moss and Representative Jason Hoskins for ushering this legislation through and Governor Gretchen Whitmer for enacting it into law. This is a long overdue victory not just for the LGBTQ+ community, but for all Michigan residents.” 


"On behalf of our community, I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Governor and all of Michigan's elected officials for standing up for what's right and never backing down from a bully," said Erin Knott, Equality Michigan Executive Director. "Equality Michigan, the Human Rights Campaign and the entire Hate Won’t Win coalition is inspired to push as hard and as fast as we can here in Michigan, to move good LGBTQ policy with this pro-equality legislature, while continuing to stamp out the genocidal and inflammatory rhetoric of extremists and their related attempts to turn back the clock on our rights.   This is what Michiganders voted for last November.” 


“This is a day to celebrate. Attracting and keeping top talent is a key business issue. This supports Michigan employers’ desire to be more inclusive in their recruitment, hiring, and the culture they are building among teams” said representatives from the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, and the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance. “It makes it clear that everyone is welcome in Michigan. This is good for people, good for business, and will support a more thriving and prosperous Michigan for all.” 


“This bill being signed into law is a beacon of hope and sends a powerful message of acceptance to LGBTQ people across the nation. At The Trevor Project, we work every day to protect the lives of LGBTQ youth, and days like today prove that in generations to come, both their legal and lived equality will no longer be fodder for political debate,” said Troy Stevenson (he/him), Director of State Advocacy Campaigns for The Trevor Project. “Our research shows that having at least one accepting adult can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt among LGBTQ young people by 40 percent. We applaud the elected leaders, advocates, and Governor Whitmer for making this a reality, and affirming the dignity and rights of LGBTQ Michiganders by codifying these protections into law.” 


"We’re so incredibly excited about Governor Whitmer signing explicit protections for LGBTQ+ people into Michigan law. The Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act amendment is a historic bill that was only made possible due to years of grassroots organizing together with our allies and partners” said Amritha Venkataraman, Michigan State Director, The Human Rights Campaign. “We should all celebrate today’s step toward progress - we celebrate with the volunteers who knocked on thousands of doors during the midterm elections, with the lawmakers who have been pushing for progress for years, with Michigan voters who elected the first pro-equality legislature in decades, and with organizations like Equality Michigan and ACLU."



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Elcra signing


Senate Bill 4 was sponsored by state Senator Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, and a copy can be found here.  


Whitmer Administration Actions to Protect the LGBTQ+ Community 

Since taking office, Governor Whitmer has taken action to protect the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ Michiganders are an essential part of who we are and make Michigan a better place to live and work.  

  • In March 2023, Governor Whitmer signed Senate Bill 4 reaffirming civil rights protections for sexual orientation and expanding coverage to include gender identity. 
  • In June 2021, Governor Whitmer signed executive directive 2021-03 to prohibit the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to use any state and federal funds for conversion therapy on minors. It also requires any department or agency that regulates, provides, procures, or pays for medical or mental health services for Michiganders must act to protect minors from conversion therapy. 
  • In June 2021, Governor Whitmer issued a proclamation marking June as Pride Month to recognize the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ Michiganders and was the first governor to march at the Motor City Pride parade. 
  • In December 2021, Governor Whitmer filed an amicus brief in the Michigan Supreme Court arguing the language of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. 
  • In June 2020, Governor Whitmer renamed Downtown Lansing’s Lewis Cass Building to the “Elliott-Larsen Building” in honor of the bipartisan sponsors of Michigan’s Civil Rights Law. 
  • In June 2019, Governor Whitmer was the first governor in Michigan to fly the Pride Flag on a building. 
  • In February 2019, Governor Whitmer called for the expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
  • In January 2019, one of the first actions taken by Governor Whitmer was signing executive directive 2019-09 to strengthen protections against discrimination in state employment, including for gender identity or expression and sexual orientation. This directive extended those protections to the employees of anyone doing business with the state too.