Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Michigan ranked in the lowest category of the State Equality Index

February 1, 2021
<p>Illustration of a woman holding an LGBTQ+ flag.</p>
Photo by Hope Ann Flores | The State News

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) and the Equality Federation Institute released their annual State Equality Index (SEI) on Jan. 25, which measures how the laws in each state affect the LGBTQ+ community. 

The 155-page index includes a scoreboard that ranks each state's LGBTQ+ equality based on the laws enforced. There are four categories:  “high priority to achieve basic equality” (the lowest category), “solidifying equality,” “building equality” and “working toward innovative equality” (highest category).

In total, 25 states, including Michigan, fell into the “high priority to achieve basic equality” category.

“Michigan lawmakers have long been asked to protect LGBTQ individuals from job and housing discrimination for decades, ever since the first legislation was introduced in 1983,” Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott said. 

The SEI reports that Michigan has laws that prohibit surrogacy arrangements if the surrogate is not genetically related to the child. This means that two men would not be able to have a child because they lack eggs that could be implanted into another woman, and the law requires that the surrogate uses her own egg. 

Michigan also has laws that discriminate against LGBTQ+ families who want to foster or adopt children. Agencies can block foster children from being placed with LGBTQ+ families. This law also allows for adoption agencies to prevent LGBTQ+ couples from adopting children. Michigan laws also criminalize sodomy and behaviors of people who are positive for HIV.

While the state ranked low in the SEI, East Lansing received a perfect score in Michigan in the 2020 Municipality Equality Index (MEI) for their inclusiveness with the LGBTQ+ community.  

Similar to the SEI, the MEI focus on how municipal laws are inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community. The criteria for the MEI included non-discrimination laws, municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership stances on LGBTQ+ equality. 

The HRC reported that 185 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in 35 states last year.

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