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Elliott-Larsen Expansion Fails to Protect Religious Liberties

Yesterday, the Michigan State Senate, by a vote of 23-15, voted to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) by adding “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression” to the list of items for which discrimination is prohibited.

Specifically, SB4 creates LGBTQ+ protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

The entire Democratic senate caucus voted for the bill joined by three Republicans.

Senator Ed McBroom and Senator John Damoose, the two northern GOP lawmakers, opposed the expansion of ELCRA. While Sen. Damoose did not offer public comment, Sen. McBroom delivered a lengthy speech in which he complained that, "This legislation will create impossible-to-resolve conflicts for churches, employers, and employees."

Sen. Jim Runestad offered two amendments, one of which would have ensured that “religious orientation, religious identity or expression” are protected. That religious conscience amendment failed.

After the vote, Sen. Runestad expressed his dismay: "... every state that has expanded its civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity has included religious protections. These states include California, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington. Without my amendments, Michigan would be an extreme outlier even among our nation’s most liberal states. This is the wrong direction for Michigan.”

The bill now goes to the Michigan House where it's expected to pass, and signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. However, Faith2Action suggests contacting the following reps (who barely won their seats), and let your voice be heard.

The list:

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