The Michigan Civil Rights Commission hopes to help local governments draft non-discrimination laws.
The commission has released a model civil rights ordinance communities can use as a template for their own laws.
“A nondiscrimination ordinance is a welcome mat of sorts for that community,” said commission chair Arthur Horwitz.
Horwitz says more than 30 local governments in Michigan have already adopted nondiscrimination laws. That’s as efforts to add LGBT protections to Michigan’s civil rights law flounder at the state Capitol.
“Despite whatever may be going on in Lansing or in Washington or in the courts, that at least for the area where that they live, work, and play, that they want to be proactive in saying ‘we are a welcoming community,’” he said.
The model language developed and approved this week by the Civil Rights Commission does include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The commission – which was largely appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder – is urging lawmakers to add LGBT protections to the state’s non-discrimination law. Right now, Michiganders can be fired or denied housing in many parts of Michigan if they are – or are suspected of being – LGBT.
“It’s just not fair. It’s not right. And we as a state and as Michiganders are better than that,” said Horwitz.
Some state lawmakers say they’re concerned adding LGBT protections to state law could infringe on religious freedom.