Civil Rights Law Author Says It’s Time to Debate Adding Gay Rights

Aug 28, 2012

Michigan’s landmark civil rights law was celebrated as a legal milestone in a ceremony Tuesday at the state Capitol. The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act was enacted 36 years ago.

A ceremony in the Capitol rotunda re-united the co-authors of the legislation. State Representative Daisy Elliott was a Democrat from Detroit. State Representative Mel Larsen was a Republican from Oakland County. The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act protects against discrimination based on race, religion, gender; national origin, or marital status.

Larsen says he’s pleased with how the law has worked, but he says it’s time to at least consider adding protections against discrimination for gay and lesbian Michiganders.

“I would like to see the public debate on gays and lesbians, I really do," he says. "I haven’t taken a position on it, but I think it’s long overdue.”

There has been legislation introduced in the Legislature to add sexual orientation to the protections in the civil rights law. There are no hearings planned on the bills.

Larsen says it was a lot of work to build the bipartisan coalition to enact the civil rights law.  He’s not sure the same thing could happen today in the era of legislative term limits and hyper-partisanship.