gay rights

Investigative
7:00 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Why is it legal to discriminate against LGBT people in Michigan? (Part 1)

LGBT rainbow flag flapping in the sun
user Marlith Flickr

We’d like to think all people are treated equally in America.

In fact, we think our system is set up to make sure that happens. There are, though, people who are not protected.

If the pollsters are right, here’s something you probably don’t know:

It’s perfectly legal to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

A Gallup poll reported nearly nine out of ten people think LGBT people are already protected.

They are not.

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Law
4:31 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Civil rights, or voters' choice? Royal Oak divided over anti-discrimination law

Royal Oak's anti-discrimination law is on pause.
user Tyrone Warner Flickr

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. 

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Stateside
5:13 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Talking about LGBT rights in Michigan

Michigan doesn't offer legal protections barring LGBT discrimination
Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on two cases involving same sex marriage this year, bringing LGBT rights to the forefront of political discussion.

In Michigan, the Eliot-Larsen Civil Rights law doesn't protect members of the LGBT community.

This means that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals can be fired, denied housing, and turned away from restaurants and hotels based on their sexual identity.

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham spoke with Jay Kaplan with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

Kaplan has been the staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project since its founding in 2001. He has fought against Michigan’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying.

Listen to the full interview above.

Education
5:04 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Stateside: Gender neutral housing at universities

University of Michigan Student Union building.
Wikimedia Commons

Universities across the country are opening up campus housing to transgender students and it's happening right here in Michigan.

The University of Michigan housing has announced it will set aside a block of gender neutral rooms for transgender and gender non-conforming students in the fall of 2013, as a part of the gender inclusive living experience.

We speak with Amy Navvab, a student at the University of Michigan and Chair of the Open Housing Initiative, and Amanda Hobson, Residential Coordinator at Ohio University where gender neutral housing is already available to students.

Listen to the interview above.

Education
3:16 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Teacher back at work after suspension for playing pro-gay song

(courtesy of KQED)

A Southeast Michigan teacher is back at work today  after the school suspended her for showing a pro-gay video in class.

The trouble started when Susan Johnson allowed a student to play the song “Same Love,” by the artist Mackelmore, in her South Lyon middle school class.

The student asked Johnson if he could play it, and Johnson says she inquired if there was any violence or profanity in the song. She gave him the okay when he told her it was clean. The song’s about supporting same-sex marriage, and includes the following lyrics:

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Politics & Government
4:52 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Michigan's changing view of gay marriage

A new poll shows a majority of Michiganders support gay marriage.

8 years ago, 59% of Michigan voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage and civil unions.

But Michigan State University researchers say a poll has found 56% of Michiganders are now in favor of gay marriage.    The poll of more than a thousand Michiganders turn place between mid-June and mid-August.

Charles Ballard is the director of the State of the State Survey.  He says there remains a core of people ‘Strongly Opposed’ to gay marriage.

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Politics & Government
11:38 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Royal Oak moves to join other Michigan cities protecting gay rights

Royal Oak City Commissioners unanimously approved a measure to start drafting a human rights ordinance Monday.

Such an ordinance would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and other characteristics not covered under state or federal law. A number of Michigan cities have similar laws on the books.

Royal Oak voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed human rights ordinance in 2001.

But City Commissioner Jim Rasor is convinced public opinion on gay rights has shifted drastically since then.

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Politics & Government
9:18 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Lesbian couple challenges Michigan's same-sex marriage ban

April DeBoer, left, Jayne Rowse, and their children.
DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

A lesbian couple from the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park is using an ongoing lawsuit to challenge Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are jointly raising three special-needs children, who initially came to them through the foster care system, since birth. They’ve already filed suit in federal court, challenging the state code that forbids unmarried couples from adopting.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Political parties differ on same sex marriage

Participant at LGBT caucus at the Democratic National Convention. The Democrats' platform includes supporting same sex marriage. The Republican platform calls for a Constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

One of the prominent social issues this election year is gay marriage. During the Republican National Convention, the party’s platform and political leaders said marriage is limited to one man and one woman. The Democratic platform calls for allowing same sex marriage.

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Politics & Government
4:36 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Civil rights law author: It’s time to debate adding gay rights

State Reps. Daisy Elliott (D-Detroit) and Mel Larsen (R-Oxford) jointly sponsored the landmark Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976. The law has been declared a Michigan Legal Milestone.
State Bar of Michigan

Michigan’s landmark civil rights law was celebrated today as a legal milestone in a ceremony at the state Capitol that re-united the two main sponsors of the legislation.

State Representative Daisy Elliott was a Democrat from Detroit. State Representative Mel Larsen was a Republican from Oakland County.

The 36-year-old Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act protects against discrimination based on race, religion, gender; national origin, or marital status.

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Law
10:04 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Former assistant state attorney ordered to pay $4.5M to gay U-M student

Andrew Shirvell

DETROIT (AP) - A jury has awarded a gay University of Michigan student body president $4.5 million in his lawsuit against a former Michigan assistant attorney general who posted about him in an anti-gay blog.

The U.S. District Court jury in Detroit ruled Thursday in favor of Christopher Armstrong. He claims he suffered distress after a blog created by Andrew Shirvell accused him of enticing minors with alcohol and recruiting people to become homosexual.

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Politics & Government
12:15 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Bill protecting Michigan worship services from disruption nears approval

State Rep. Deb Shaughnessy is sponsoring a bill outlawing disruption of worship services.
gophouse.com

Those who disrupt religious services in Michigan could soon face much harsher penalties.

A bill sponsored by state Rep. Deb Shaughnessy, R-Charlotte, intended to prevent disruptions during worship events, cleared the state Senate last week.

From the Associated Press:

The fine for disorderly conduct at a religious service could go as high as $1,000, which is more than the maximum fine for many misdemeanors. A second offense could cost as much as $5,000. A judge could also order at least 100 days of community service.

According to a press release from Shaughnessy's office, the legislation was inspired by a 2008 protest at the Mount Hope Church in Delta Township. As part of the protest, members of a gay-rights anarchist group interrupted a service at the megachurch by throwing flyers, pulling fire alarms and shouting slogans.

The press release quotes Rep. Shaughnessy:

"The right of Michigan residents to gather and worship is not only guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, it is a right that must be respected by those with other beliefs...Nobody should fear disruption of their worship services by political opponents, and this legislation should shield them from such chaos."

The bill is now on Gov. Rick Snyder's desk awaiting approval.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics & Government
8:21 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Minister fighting for gay rights in Holland appears in court

In August 2011 Reverend Bill Freeman (right) is one of at least a hundred people who march to protest Holland City's Council's vote not to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination laws.
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.

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Politics
4:26 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Visualization of gay rights and restrictions in U.S.

The Guardian's data visualization of gay rights in the U.S. Go to the link below to see the interactive version.
The Guardian

The rights of gay and lesbian Americans leaped into the national spotlight again after President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage. He made the announcement a day after North Carolinians voted to become the 30th state in the U.S. to place a ban on same-sex marriage.

Michigan voters banned same-sex marriages in 2004.

Some states have done the opposite. They've passed laws expressly allowing same sex marriages.

And then there are laws on adoption. Some states allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly. Other states have banned the practice.

Laws restricting and protecting gay Americans vary widely from state to state. There are laws regarding hospital visitation, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, hate crimes, and harassment in schools.

The national picture on gay and lesbian legal rights and restrictions is jumbled and difficult to explain.

But a unique form of journalism - data visualization journalism - can help bring light to the overall picture.

That's just what The Guardian has done with U.S. state laws that address gay and lesbian issues.

In one look, you can see which states have adopted laws protecting the rights of gays and lesbians, and which states have passed laws restricting their rights.

The Guardian's color wheel shows that in the Midwest, Iowa stands out legislatively as a "gay friendly" state, while states like Michigan would decidedly not be seen that way.

Michigan, Mississippi, and Utah are the only states that expressly ban same-sex marriages and joint adoption by same-sex couples.

Take a look at their color wheel and let us know what you think of it.

HT to GG

Politics
11:54 am
Tue April 3, 2012

Some local elected officials want to add sexual orientation to Michigan's civil rights law

Letter signed by 65 local elected leaders supporting amending Michigan's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A battle over gay and lesbian legal protections is heating up.

Sixty-five local elected officials have signed a letter supporting a bill that would add sexual orientation to the state civil rights act.

Derek Dobies is a city councilman in Jackson. He says this is an economic issue for Michigan.

“Given Michigan’s brain drain," says Dobies, "we need to do everything that we can…both at the local level and at the state level that’s within our power…to put a welcome sign on Michigan.” 

Jon Hoadley is the director of the Unity Michigan Coalition. He says its important to have the support of local leaders in this statewide fight.

“We have elected officials in Grand Rapids…Kalamazoo and Jackson," says Hoadley, "cities big and small across the state saying ‘we think that non-discrimination protections are good for us and they’re good for Michigan’.” 

Eighteen cities in Michigan have local ordinances against discrimination against gays and lesbians.

There is a bill in the state House to nullify those local ordinances.

Politics
4:55 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Michigan lawmaker proposes expanding LGBT protections

antiochla.edu Antioch University

At the state Capitol, a Democratic lawmaker has called for expending Michigan’s civil rights law to protect people who are gay, lesbian or transgender from many types of discrimination.

State Senator Rebekah Warren says expanding the civil rights law would send a message that Michigan is trying to attract creative workers and entrepreneurs.

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Education
2:32 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Students host LGBT educational summit

Gay pride flag
user Tyrone Warner Flickr

A group of high school students in Plymouth and Canton is hosting an educational summit on Saturday, Feb. 4. They want to address some of the issues gay students deal with in school. The group is known as a “gay-straight alliance," or  GSA.

Saturday’s event is open to all students, teachers and parents affiliated with the three high schools.

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Seeking Change
6:51 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Seeking to add gay rights to a Holland city ordinance

Rev. Bill Freeman reads from his copy of the U.S. Constitution during a packed public hearing on the proposed changes to the Holland city ordinance last year.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

In May of 2010, Pastor Bill Freeman asked the Holland City Council to pass a Gay Rights Ordinance. The city's Human Relations Commission considered the question for nearly a year, and recommended unanimously that the City Council add the words, "sexual orientation and gender identity," to the city's anti-discrimination ordinances.

The City Council voted 5-4 in June of last year against doing so. Pastor Freeman is trying to keep the issue alive. He’s attended every regular City Council meeting since June to ask that the "no" voters change their minds. He also tried to "occupy" city hall on October 19th last year.  He was arrested for trespassing.

As part of our new "Seeking Change" series, we speak to Pastor Freeman about his efforts in Holland.

Politics
4:52 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

3 Michigan ministers say U.S. hate crimes act is unconstitutional

user mconnors morgueFile

The head of the American Family Association of Michigan is appealing a court ruling that upheld a federal hate crime law.

The law, called the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was expanded in 2009 to protect people victimized because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

Gary Glenn claims the law is unconstitutional because of the threat it poses to free speech:

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Politics
5:21 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Lesbian family addresses Troy Mayor, city council (VIDEO)

A lesbian family addresses Troy Mayor Janice Daniels at a city council meeting on December 5, 2011.
screen grab from YouTube video

Last week, Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported that Troy Mayor Janice Daniels faced protesters outside a city council meeting who were angered over homophobic remarks Daniels posted on Facebook before she was elected Mayor.

A video making rounds on the Internet shows that inside the council chambers, Daniels heard cordial but tough comments from a local family, a married lesbian couple and their daughters.

Take a look:

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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