LGBT rights in Michigan
|LGBT rights in Michigan|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal statewide since 2003
(Lawrence v. Texas)
|Gender identity/expression||Altering sex on birth certificate requires sex reassignment surgery|
|Discrimination protections||Sexual orientation and gender identity protections in state employment (see below)|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Michigan face legal challenges non-LGBT residents do not. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Michigan. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all the protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
Laws against same-sex intimate contact
Sexual acts between persons of the same sex are legal in Michigan. They had been criminalized until the state's sodomy laws, which applied to both homosexuals and heterosexuals, were invalidated in 2003 by the United States Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
On January 23, 2012, a lesbian couple filed a lawsuit, DeBoer v. Snyder in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, challenging the state's ban on adoption by same-sex couples in order to jointly adopt their children. On March 21, 2014, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Attorney General Bill Schuette filed for an emergency stay of his ruling with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. On Saturday, March 22, 2014, four of Michigan's 83 county clerks opened their offices for special hours and issued more than 300 marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Later that day, the Sixth Circuit stayed Judge Friedman's order until March 26. On March 25, 2014, the Sixth Circuit stayed the ruling indefinitely. On March 28, 2014, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the federal government will recognize the same-sex marriages performed on March 22.
On November 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit reversed the lower court's ruling and upheld Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional amendment forbidding recognition of same-sex relationships meant that public employers in Michigan could not legally grant domestic partnership benefits to their employees. A law in effect since December 2011 banned most public employers, though not colleges and universities, from offering health benefits to the domestic partners of their employees. It did not extend to workers whose benefits are established by the Michigan Civil Service Commission. On June 28, 2013, U.S. District Judge David M. Lawson issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing its law banning local governments and school districts from offering health benefits to their employees' domestic partners. He made that injunction permanent on November 12, 2014, when he ruled in Bassett v. Snyder that Michigan's restrictions on domestic partnership benefits were not related to a legitimate government purpose. He distinguished his ruling from the Sixth Circuit's ruling in DeBoer: "It is one thing to say [as in DeBoer] that states may cleave to the traditional definition of marriage as a means of encouraging biologically complimentary couples to stay together and raise the offspring they produce.... It is quite another to say that a state may adopt a narrow definition of family, and pass laws that penalize those unions and households that do not conform."
LGBT people are not included in Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. As early as the 1973 committee hearing on the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, members of the LGBT community in Michigan sought to be included in the law. However, actual legislation to do so was not introduced until 2005 when Michigan's first openly LGBT state legislator, Chris Kolb, included it with two other pro-LGBT bills - none of which passed. Since Kolb's 2005 legislation, a number of additional bills have been introduced, as recently as 2014, to add protections for the LGBT community.
On December 23, 2003, Governor Jennifer Granholm issued an executive order prohibiting employment discrimination state-level public sector employment on the basis of sexual orientation. The order only covers employees of the State of Michigan and does not cover public sector employees of county, school, or local-level governments. On November 22, 2007, Governor Jennifer Granholm extended her executive order to include gender identity. This executive order would be extended under Governor Rick Snyder.
On March 14, 2013, the Michigan Senate passed, by a 37-0 vote, an emergency harbor dredging funding bill that made private marinas ineligible for a new loan program if they discriminate based on sexual orientation. On March 20, 2013, the Michigan House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 106-4. On March 27, 2013, Governor Rick Snyder signed an emergency harbor dredging funding bill that made private marinas ineligible for a new loan program if they discriminate based on sexual orientation. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is also prohibited in state government employment, but there are no other statewide protections. Ingham, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in government employment. Over thirty local municipalities have local human rights ordinances which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in employment and housing.
- While East Lansing was the first community in the United States to enact civil rights protections that included sexual orientation, Ann Arbor was the first to pass comprehensive protections that included employment, housing, and public accommodations.
- East Lansing was the first community in the United States to enact civil rights protections that included sexual orientation.
- Ferndale voters passed the measure in 2006 after three voter referendums since the time it was first proposed in 1991.
- An ordinance expanding its non-discrimination ordinance was passed in 2012. However when the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) law was voted down statewide, all ordinances enacted in Flint by the EMF were removed, including the non-discrimination ordinance. Their previous non-discrimination ordinance is still in effect, but the gender expression component is not.
- In 2001, the city council approved the measure, but opponents gathered enough signatures to force a citywide ballot question on the ordinance. In November 2001, voters then approved the measure, 1,982 to 896.
- The ordinance was first passed in December 2008. It was repealed in January 2009 when opponents submitted petitions to force a public vote. The city drafted language that offered a compromise, including the exemption for religious organizations. The city council voted unanimously in June 2009 to pass it. Groups opposed to including sexual orientation and gender identity in the ordinance again submitted petitions — 1,273 signatures were needed, 2,088 were gathered. On November 4, 2009, the ordinance was upheld with 7,671 people voting “yes” and 4,731 voting “no” — 60% to 37%.
- On March 4, 2013 the Pleasant Ridge City Commission passed a human rights ordinance in a 6–1 vote which included sexual orientation. On April 9, 2013, the Commission voted unanimously to also prohibits biases based on HIV status and gender identity.
- In March 2013, the Royal Oak City Commission voted 6-1 to enact a human rights ordinance inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation. Opponents collected more than 1,000 petition signatures to override the commission’s vote and put the issue before Royal Oak voters in the November 2013 election. Royal Oak voters rejected a similar human rights ordinance in 2001 by a 2-1 margin, but passed the ordinance in 2013 by a margin of 6,654 votes for and 5,670 votes against the measure.
- On October 4, 2011, the Traverse City Commission approved the measure to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Opponents of the law collected signatures to require a referendum. On November 8, 2011, Traverse City residents voted 63% to 37% in favor of retaining the city ordinance.
Since 1992, sexual orientation is recognized for data collection about hate crimes in Michigan.
Michigan has no statutory ban on same-sex couples adopting, and no Michigan state court has ever interpreted Michigan's statute as prohibiting such adoptions. However at least one other state court has ruled that unmarried individuals may not jointly petition to adopt.
Two Michigan lesbians, who are raising three children adopted by only one of them, filed a lawsuit known as DeBoer v. Snyder in federal court in January 2012 seeking to have the state's ban on adoption by same-sex couples overturned. and in September amended that suit to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage as well.
In December 2012, the Michigan Court of Appeals, an intermediate-level court, ruled in Usitalo v. Landon that the state's courts have jurisdiction to grant second-parent adoptions by same-sex couples.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling striking down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, Michigan courts have been granting adoption rights to same-sex couples.
- Politics of Michigan
- LGBT history in Michigan
- LGBT rights in the United States
- Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States
- Law of Michigan
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- Michigan Broadens Discrimination Protections
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- "Ordinance No. 973" (PDF). City of Mount Pleasant. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
The City intends that no individual be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be denied the enjoyment of his or her civil rights or be discriminated against because of his or her [...] sexual orientation or gender identity.
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- "ACLU Praises Appeals Court Decision on Same-Sex Second-Parent Adoption, December 13, 2012". ACLU. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
The Michigan Appeals Court ruled this week that family court judges have jurisdiction to grant second-parent adoptions to same-sex couples...