Ruling by Michigan Supreme Court keeps inching LGBTQ Michiganders toward equality

It would take residents to elect more progressive legislators to understand that amending the Elliott-Larsen makes Michigan a much more attractive state economically and socially, says Curtis Lipscomb of LGBT Detroit.

A recent ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court said discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community was illegal. The 5-2 decision was based on the landmark Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

LGBT Detroit Executive Director Curtis Lipscomb told WDET’s Russ McNamara shortly after the ruling came down that it’s good news — but there’s still more work to be done.

“We’ve been working to amend the Elliott-Larsen Act for many years, very proud to have any kind of momentum, a forward step to making sure that Michigan residents are protected. There are multiple paths to securing our rights. But today for this moment, I celebrate our state, judicial branch, and all those who argued a reason to protect us.”

Listen: How amending the Elliott-Larsen Act would make Michigan a more attractive state economically and socially.


Executive Director of LGBT Detroit Curtis Lipscomb

Russ McNamara, WDET News: Is it just a matter of time before another amendment is brought up again in the state Legislature?

Curtis Lipscomb, LGBT Detroit: Well, Michigan’s state Legislature has not had LGBT people’s interests at the forefront. It would take the state residents to elect more progressive — more forward — people to understand that amending the actual act makes Michigan a much more attractive state for not only people who live here, but people want to get educated here, and businesses who would like to have an office here and for other types of businesses to grow.

So you’re kind of pitching this as making Michigan a gay mecca of sorts. We consider the West Coast — California — and the East Coast as being more accepting of LGBTQ people. And there really isn’t that same sort of feeling in the Midwest.

I believe that Michigan can’t afford a brain drain. And I do believe if you want an environment where competition thrives, go into the tool box and use whatever tools it can to attract young, innovative progressive people to build businesses and build industries — and keep some industries alive in Michigan. And so I would not say that the LGBT Michiganders want a gay mecca, I wouldn’t say that. But we do know that we share our families’ similar values, Midwestern social conservative, family building, hardworking Michiganders just want to be treated fairly. And this is a great step in moving forward. We haven’t had this momentum. And so to get the state Legislature to elect people that want a much more fair and progressive Michigan, that is our aim our collective aim, and we all win when that happens.

Of course, there’s going to be some pushback. In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Republican Mike Shirkey said, “all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” But then focused on people with firmly held religious beliefs and respect for faith-based institutions. It seems acceptance of LGBT people from religious organizations might lag behind a little bit.

LGBT people are faith-based people. They’re not this separate kind of community that does not appreciate all the great things that this country has to offer. Whatever it goes through all the good and bad within a nation within our state in our cities, LGBT people are there.

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.