Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights is studying how current laws and policies regarding gay and transgender people affect people’s lives, jobs, communities and businesses. Though state laws ban discrimination in housing and employment based on some factors – people who are gay or transgender are not included.
The department will hold a public hearing in Holland Tuesday.
"We know that this is a very heated discussion and so if preserving anonymity is important to you when you share your story feel free to do that,” Regina Calcagno, a community organizer the department said. “We just want to hear from you."
State laws provide protections based on some factors, like race, gender and religion.
Calcagno says the department is not advocating for or against changing those laws. They’re putting together a study that determines the economic impact of current policies.
"In order to do that we really need to take in the information from all sides of the discussion not just one side,” Calcagno said. She says so far, the input they’ve received has been rather one sided.
Calcagno says she picked Holland as a good location to gather a range of opinions.
A year ago, Holland City Council voted not to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination laws. That means employers and landlords can fire or refuse housing to someone because they are gay or transgender. 18 other Michigan cities have chosen to adopt similar protections.
The department held a hearing Jackson and will hold another 3 or 4 hearings in other parts of the state this summer.
The department’s report will come out by next January.