Report Says Anti-Gay Discrimination Bad For Michigan Economic Development

Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights Year-Long Study 'Conclusive'

By Todd A. Heywood

LANSING - In a stunning report released Monday, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights has determined that anti-gay discrimination is having a negative impact on Michigan's economic development and is driving business and people from the state.

"We do not believe that this report mandates particular conclusions must be drawn on the merits of particular legislation; instead we assert that the report conclusively establishes that the economic implications of LGBT inclusion/exclusion are real, they are substantial, they are predictable and they must be a part of any informed policy discussion," wrote Daniel Krichbaum, executive director of MDCR, wrote in his letter introducing the report to Commissioners.

The report is based on a year-long study by the department which included public hearings in several cities, as well as submission of online and anonymous testimony about discrimination.

A significant portion of Michigan residents falsely believe that LGBT persons are protected from discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations in Michigan by state and federal laws. In fact, only 21 cities and townships prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and or gender identity and expression, the report says. And those municipalities that prohibit such discrimination do so in ways which render such local laws unenforceable. The report says many of the localities have shut down programs to investigate complaints, or had awareness of the complaint process was lacking in the municipality.

It concludes with 11 recommendations for the Civil Rights Commission. Among those recommendations are that the Commission adopt resolutions opposing measures to restrict LGBT equality, continue to encourage the legislature to amend the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act to include gender identity and sexual orientation, increase public information campaigns to inform people the LGBT community is not protected under current law, encourage the legislature to remove state laws which have been struck down as unconstitutional - such as Michigan's sodomy law, and the report's findings, specifically that many people are leaving Michigan because of anti-gay policies, should be shared with the Governor's policy staff.

Saying the participation of hundreds of Michigan residents was "courageous" and brought the LGBT movement "one big step closer to the realization of full equality in Michigan," Equality Michigan praised the new report in a press release late Monday night.

"It is also gratifying that the report so eloquently pointed out the broader economic impact on not just the LGBT communities, but the entire state," said Emily Dievendorf, policy director of Equality Michigan, in the press release. "The report finds that Michigan voters not only support an end to this inequality and hinderance on our economic recovery, but believed that the measures to address this problem were already in place. Equality Michigan calls on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to adopt this report expediently. The Legislature and Governor Snyder, who were elected on promises of focusing on economic barriers, now have a roadmap to cultivating the diverse and inclusive Michigan that has proven to result in economic growth."

The Civil Rights Commission, which is appointed by the Governor, saw the report for the first time Monday, and will take up the recommendations at a later date.

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