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discrimination

Love-Ramirez family

In Michigan, if you’re gay or lesbian, you can’t get married.

And for LGBT partners who adopt children it’s nearly impossible for both to have parental rights. That causes legal difficulties in providing a secure future for the kids they’re raising.

Two-year-old Lucas has two dads, Kent and Diego Love-Ramirez.

Diego is an airline pilot, and Kent works at Michigan State University.

“We’ve been together just over ten years. And we married in a religious ceremony five years ago and just legally married in Washington, D.C.," said Kent.

Kent and Diego are the only parents Lucas has ever known. But, the State of Michigan does not recognize one of them as a parent.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Three townships in the Lansing region will be considering proposals to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression.

In a coordinated effort, Delhi, Meridian, and Delta township officials could vote on protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from employment, housing, and public accommodation discrimination with the next several weeks.

Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
user ep_jhu / Flickr

Public polling and recent court cases have prompted greater discussion about adding protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Michigan’s civil rights law. Advocates for the change say it’s time to stop legally discriminating against LGBT people. Others say changing the law say it would mean people opposed to homosexual behavior would be discriminated against. The issue is beginning to play out in the Michigan legislature.

Michigan’s civil rights law is known as the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. It prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, family status, and marital status.

Advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and opponents of gay rights have one thing in common: both sides say discrimination should not be allowed. Where they go from there is very different.

LGBT advocates say sexual orientation and gender expression should be included in the Elliot-Larsen protections.

Anti-gay rights advocates say there’s no need for creating special classes of people to be protected.

courtesy U.S. Housing and Urban Develompment / HUD

Some Michigan residents are turned away for housing even if they can afford the rent for an apartment or the mortgage for a home. In many cases, landlords and bankers can legally discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. This discrimination happens even in communities with laws protecting LGBT people.

Michigan has no state law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from being discriminated against when it comes to housing. Anti-gay rights advocates say no law is necessary because there are no documented cases of discrimination against LGBT people.

But, in a widely cited report, Michigan’s Fair Housing Centers found there is discrimination by landlords, real estate agents, banks and others involved in housing even in cities where laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Two weeks ago, as the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema posted a shocking and scurrilous article on Facebook titled “Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuals.”

The piece was a collection of hate-filled, untrue smears, such as that gays commit half the murders in large cities, are riddled with diseases, die young and have a secret agenda to recruit children.

This prompted a sudden outcry. Some young and moderate Republicans called for Agema’s resignation. But he refused, and instead asked people to sign an online petition supporting him.

The petition got hundreds of signatures, which Agema boasted about till a reporter scrutinized them. Among the signers were the names, Osama bin Laden, Adolf Hitler, Goat Killer and “I spit upon thee.” Plus someone claiming to be North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, who wrote “From one dictator to another.”

But while there was a considerable outcry, Governor Rick Snyder has remained noticeably silent. Finally, he was cornered by a reporter Monday and asked his opinion. He refused. “I‘m not going to get in the middle of all that,” he said.

If you were looking for a quintessential solidly middle-class Michigan suburb, Royal Oak, Michigan might be it. Its 57,000 people are mainly white and solidly middle-class.

The downtown became somewhat of a magnet for the young, and trendy a decade or so ago, and hip twenty-somethings still mingle there with motorcycle bikers and teenage skateboarders on warm summer evenings. But by and large, Royal Oak is average middle-sized suburban homes, built around the baby boom era.

Rainbow flag, often associated with the LGBT movement
User Marlith / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act protects many people from discrimination.  You cannot be fired from your job because of your religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, family status, or marital status. But you can be fired for being gay. 

Advocates for LGBT people ask why should gay people be singled out for who they are?

But gay rights opponents say this is not about who they are; this is about their behavior.

Gary Glenn is with American Family Association – Michigan.

“We don’t believe that, for example, a Christian bookstore should be forced to hire some guy who claims to be a woman and wants to wear a dress to work and use the women’s restroom. We don’t believe that a Catholic school ought to be forced to hire an openly homosexual man as a football coach, for example.”

Glenn says it would be an infringement of employers’ rights if Michigan were to amend the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect LGBT people.

LGBT Pride Flag
Tyrone Warner / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A new law in Royal Oak protecting gay and lesbian people from discrimination has hit a bump in the road.

You’ve heard that a handful of cities in Michigan have anti-discrimination ordinances that say you can't fire or deny housing to someone just because they're gay.

And Royal Oak was about to join that club when their city commissioners okayed the new law.

But 200 people recently signed a petition to put that law on hold.

Now opponents of the ordinance need some 700 signatures by April to bring it up for a city-wide vote. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A Michigan hospital has settled a lawsuit that accused it of agreeing to a man's request that no black nurses care for his newborn.

Hurley Medical Center and four nurses who sued said Friday the lawsuit was "amicably resolved."

The Flint hospital says the conduct wasn't consistent with hospital policies and that it "fundamentally opposes" racial discrimination.

The suit was filed by nurse Tonya Battle, who alleged a note was posted on an assignment clipboard reading, "No African American nurse to take care of baby.

Former Flint Mayor Don Williamson.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Former Flint Mayor Don Williamson is suing the city after officials demanded that he pay out $4.5 million awarded to police officers in a 2011 discrimination suit.

Williamson is arguing that city officials violated his constitutional rights when they asked a judge to require the former mayor pay the sum, Kristin Longley of the Flint Journal reports:

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A Holland minister who’s been pushing for equal protection for gay, bisexual and transgender people says he’ll consider staging another protest. That’s in spite of a jury this week convicting him of trespassing for his first protest.

Reverend Bill Freeman is upset Holland City Council voted not to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s anti-discrimination laws. One night last October Freeman decided to occupy city hall to try to get city council to change its mind and join more than a dozen other Michigan cities with similar laws. He was arrested for trespassing when the building was closed that evening.

“It’s time for the City of Holland to join the 21st century,” Freeman said, referencing changes to the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and President Obama’s recent support of gay marriage. “The City of Holland knows what the right thing is and that is not to allow discrimination of anybody,” Freeman added.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

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.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

An Ottawa County judge is considering whether to dismiss a case against a minister who has stood up for gay rights in the City of Holland.

Hamed Saber / Flickr

A new study sheds some light on how health care providers can better meet the cultural needs of American Muslim patients.

Michigan is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the U.S.  Some Muslim patients report that they experience discrimination in health care settings.

Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan interviewed groups of Muslim men and women from different backgrounds attending mosques in Metro Detroit.  

Nancy Gallardo / Until Love Is Equal

The City of Muskegon seems likely to pass local laws protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination in housing and employment.

The state and federal government do not offer this protection, but almost 20 Michigan cities do.

Roberta King lives in Muskegon. She was "pleasantly surprised" no one opposed the local law when she asked city commission to consider it this week.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A community organization in Holland has accepted an award from the city after unsuccessfully lobbying for an anti-discrimination law there.

A while ago, I heard a lecturer explain how the 1960s were a time in which there was a great cultural clash in our country. Well, you didn’t have to live through the period to know that.

Bob Dylan’s song “The Times They Are A’Changin,“ spells it out. However, I would argue that the present-day culture wars are far deeper than the days when dad yelled at junior to get a haircut, and parents worried over whether their kids were trying marijuana.

Andrey Belenko / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Delta Airlines and Atlantic Southeast Airlines are being sued by two imams who were asked to leave a Delta flight last May (Atlantic Southeast contracts with Delta on some flights).

According to CNN, Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul were cleared to board by TSA officials twice. The flight originated in Memphis and was going to Charlotte. Both men were wearing traditional Muslim attire.

The suit alleges that the pilot of the plane, after leaving the gate, returned to the gate and refused to fly with the men on aboard.

CNN reports a Delta manager tried to intervene on the men's behalf, but could not convince the pilot to fly:

From CNN:

The manager told the men that the pilot, "despite acknowledging that both plaintiffs were cleared to board, was personally objecting to the plaintiffs being on his flight. The pilot indicated that he believed the mere presence and perception of the plaintiffs on his plane would make other passengers feel uncomfortable."

Rahman and Zaghoul are seeking damages from the airlines through a trial.

Lieutenant Stacey Randolph alleges the chief discriminated against her in 2009 and 2010 when he promoted white male officers instead of her. The chief denied the allegations in a court filing this week.

Lieutenant Stacey Randolph is the first and only African-American female supervisor at the Kalamazoo Public Safety Department. She applied for a promotion on two separate occasions in the past two years. Both times a white male got the job. Randolph scored equal to or better than other candidates.

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