On March 7, 1972, East Lansing became the first city in the U.S. to outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Nearly 40 years later, our current ordinance bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on a number of characteristics, including an individual’s sexual orientation or student status. Neither of these categories is included in our state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act today.
State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, recently introduced legislation that would void East Lansing’s ordinance by prohibiting any Michigan community from adopting an ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on categories not included in state law. This is an issue that every resident of East Lansing and every MSU student should be concerned and outraged about.
Today, if an MSU student tries to rent an apartment off campus in East Lansing and the landlord refuses to rent to them because they are a student, that’s against the law, and the student can file a complaint with the city’s Human Relations Commission and seek redress. The McMillin bill would legalize discrimination based on student status in our community.
Today, if an employer in East Lansing fires someone because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), that’s illegal. The McMillin bill would legalize discrimination based on sexual orientation in our community.
Rep. McMillin’s bill doesn’t represent the values of this community. It would be bad for East Lansing and bad for Michigan. The state Legislature has no business telling local communities we can’t recognize the equal dignity of each and every one of our residents.
I will do all that I can to oppose this legislation. I hope State News readers will join me.
Nathan Triplett, East Lansing city council member