Elected officials take stand against sexual orientation discrimination

East Lansing officials were among a handful of people who joined at the Lansing City Council Chambers on Tuesday morning announcing their support of legislation guaranteeing nondiscrimination of the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community.

The Local Electeds Against Discrimination statement, or LEAD, calls for protection for LGBT against discrimination.

“No person should live in fear of having to lose their job just for who they are,” East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett said at the press conference Tuesday. “That’s just plain wrong, and we have to stand up and say, ‘No.’”

The statement follows the initiative State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, started when she announced on March 22 that she was introducing legislation to include protection for discrimination against the LGBT community.

The legislation would amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, an act that prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status.

Triplett said 21 states and more than 140 cities have bans on discrimination based on sexual orientation. Michigan is one of the states with no such ban.

“The protections we are talking about is nothing new,” Triplett said. “But in Michigan, they are long overdue.”

East Lansing, however, was the first city in the nation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation more than 40 years ago, Triplett said.

A statewide ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation will impact many, including Denise Brogan-Kator, the executive director of Equality Michigan.

“I’ve lost my job three times for no reason other than the fact that I am a transgender woman,” Brogan-Kator said during the conference. “My performance was documented as above superior.”

State Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare, said single groups shouldn’t be singled out to accommodate.

“I think what we need to remember is that we’re all people, and we shouldn’t discriminate period,” Johnson said. “But, I don’t think we need extra laws for that.”

Although graduate student Cory Savino supports changes to current legislation, he said the state legislature is an issue because of Republicans controlling the State House of Representatives.

“I don’t think there’s enough Republicans on board to go through with it,” he said.

But Brogan-Kator said it’s an issue both parties should recognize.

“It’s only in recent years that the right-winged extremists have taken that message askew,” Brogan-Kator said. “I think most good-willed, fair-minded Republicans just as good-willed, fair-minded Democrats should support nondiscrimination because it’s the right thing to do.”

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