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NBJC Calls on Michigan to Pass Non-Discrimination Legislation that Includes Protections for Transgender People


Washington, DC – Today, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) joined the call for Michigan lawmakers to include protections for transgender people in legislation to expand the state’s non-discrimination law. Michigan’s current non-discrimination law, known as the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, was passed in 1976 and banned discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on race, sex, religion, age, height, weight, marital or family status, and national origin. An updated non-discrimination bill was introduced this week in the Michigan House of Representatives to protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but failed to include protections on the basis of gender identity or gender expression.

“I was disappointed to learn that the leadership in the Michigan House of Representatives left out protections for the transgender community in a newly introduced non-discrimination bill” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director and CEO. “Equal protection under the law is for all people, not just for the privileged or those individuals who fit into a socially acceptable box.”

A large coalition of civil rights groups, businesses and many people of goodwill have expressed opposition to the current non-discrimination bill moving in the Michigan legislature. The absence of inclusive legislation that bans discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity will leave many Michiganders without state protections in the workplace, housing and other areas of public accommodation. Currently, only 18 states and the District of Columbia protect workers on the basis of  both sexual orientation and gender identity. These same 18 states and the District of Columbia also protect the entire LGBT community in the area of housing, with Massachusetts being the only one of these states without a law that explicitly protects transgender people from discrimination in public spaces.

“Black LGBT people live at the intersection of multiple identities. When our laws do not protect against discrimination on the account of both sexual orientation and gender identity, it’s our community who is disproportionately impacted. Leaving out the transgender community in this vital piece of legislation is something we must not compromise on,” added Lettman-Hicks.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.