On Thursday, March 16, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a bill expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), reaffirming legal protections for sexual orientation and expanding coverage to include gender identity and expression.
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.
In a press release from the Governor’s office, the Detroit Regional Chamber, in partnership with the Grand Rapids Chamber and Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance, issued the following statement celebrating this important legislation.
“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. 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.”
The Chamber has long supported the ELCRA and continued advocating for its maintenance and expansion. On the latest issue of expanding it to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, the Chamber doubled down on its support with:
- Coalition letter in support of the expansion signed by statewide business leaders
- Testimony before the Michigan Senate’s Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety Committee
- Joint op-ed with Equality Michigan that was published in The Detroit News
“Our members told us … that Michigan’s ability to attract talent would be enhanced by an expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act,” said Brad Williams, Vice President of Government Relations at the Chamber during his testimony at a Feb. 9 committee hearing.
“As we talk to members about the issues they are struggling with as employers, they continue to mention that talent acquisition and retention is an enormous challenge facing Michigan now, and in the future.”