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News & Press: Advocacy

NASW Submits Comment to MDCR for LGBTQ+ Protections Under ELCRA

Thursday, August 10, 2017  
Posted by: Allan Wachendorfer
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In July, Equality Michigan asked the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to issue an interpretive statement on whether the prohibition against sex discrimination in Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) includes protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

NASW-Michigan recently submitted a statement, which you can read below. The Commission wants to hear from you. Do you think ELCRA’s prohibition against sex discrimination should or should not apply to gender identity and sexual orientation? You have less than one week to weigh in. Submit your comments until 5 pm on Tuesday, August 15, at

To submit comments in an American Sign Language video, please upload the video to a web-based hosting site such as YouTube and send the URL to the video to
The Commission will review the comments and then take up the issue at their Sept. 18 meeting in Lansing.

Dear Civil Rights Commissioners:


On behalf of the 24,000+ social workers in Michigan and their clients, the National Association of Social Workers - Michigan Chapter would like to state unequivocal support for Equality Michigan’s request that the Michigan Civil Rights Commission address anti-LGBTQ discrimination with an interpretive statement. By the Commission’s own admission, discrimination against LGBTQ persons “exists and is significant” in the state of Michigan. As the legislature has thus far failed to act to protect these persons, there is a question as to whether it is legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people. This is unacceptable. Legal precedent has already been established in federal district and appeals courts that prohibition against sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission should take a clear stand with an interpretive statement, thereby addressing any legal ambiguity, to affirm the civil rights of LGBTQ people as being protected under the law.


LGBTQ persons experience dismissal from jobs, eviction from housing, and denial of service from medical professionals due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and this significantly impacts their access to healthcare and other necessary social services. There is a strong and growing body of evidence indicating that minority stress also contributes to mental health concerns in the LGBTQ population. Without legal protections, this vulnerable population has little to no recourse when faced with discrimination, contributing to rates of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and attempted suicide. Protecting the rights of LGBTQ people isn’t just a question of equality, it is also a question of social welfare and public health. Civil rights for all persons must be protected under the law, and an interpretive statement from the Michigan Civil Rights Commission affirming protections for LGBTQ people would be a significant step towards safeguarding civil rights in our state.


Thank you for the work you do protecting the civil rights of Michigan citizens.


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