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Michigan’s auto industry turbo-boosts campaign to ban LGBT+ discrimination

Michigan’s auto industry turbo-boosts campaign to ban LGBT+ discrimination

  • Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors back LGBT+ amendment to Civil Rights Act.
The 2015 Global Rallycross Championship in Detroit.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company have endorsed a Michigan campaign to ban LGBT+ discrimination.

The three companies are all big players in the Detroit motor industry. Together they help make the city virtually synonymous with car manufacturers.

Now they have thrown their collective muscle behind a bit to protect LGBT+ people from discrimination.

The amendment to the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act would cover discrimination in employment, public accommodation and housing. 

The act already protects on the basis of age, race, sex and religion.

However the Fair and Equal Michigan campaign wants to amend it so ‘sex’ covers ‘gender, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression’.

The organization has already collected over 150,000 signatures for their petition to amend the act.

If 340,047 Michigan residents sign, it can send the ballot initiative to the state legislature.

Could this 47-year race be motoring to the finish line?

Fair and Equal Michigan started the campaign on 7 January. But now, during the COVID-19 shutdown, they are collecting the rest of the signatures electronically. Their system checks if someone is a US voter, aged over 18 and registered to vote in the state.

They are the first campaign in the state to collect signatures for a ballot initiative electronically.

Other companies in the state, including DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, Apple, Dow, Rock Holdings, and Herman Miller have already backed the campaign.

But the addition of the three automotive giants is a big boost for Fair and Equal Michigan.

Trevor Thomas, is co-chair for Fair and Equal Michigan. He told M Live:

‘The “Big Three” auto companies understand that every Michigander deserves a fair and equal chance to succeed. FCA, Ford and GM know first-hand this is about attracting and retaining the best talent to Michigan in support of the economy.’

If the campaign works, it will mark the end of a long road for Michigan’s LGBT+ community.

LGBT+ people in the state called for the Civil Rights Act to protect them as early as 1973. And the state’s first openly LGBT+ legislator Chris Kolb included the measure in a series of three pro-LGBT+ bills in 2005 but none passed.

Since then, several legislators have tried to make the change but not succeeded.

Meanwhile Virginia recently became the 21st state, plus Washington DC, to provide comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBT+ people.

However, the Michigan campaign has a race on its hands. They have until 27 May to collect the necessary signatures. Michigan voters can join the petition here.