Isabella County Commissioners vote to support protections for LGBTQ community


The Isabella County Board of Directors discusses LGBTQ protections Aug. 6 at the Isabella County Administration Building. 

The Isabella County Board of Commissioners carried a motion to call upon the state of Michigan to enact and amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act

When the act was originally drafted in 1976, it was deemed illegal in the state of Michigan to discriminate against someone on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. In 1983, Representative Jim Dressel introduced a bill to extend protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Now, 36 years later, the bill is still in the committee stage.

With unanimous approval of the resolution, the county fully supports the effort to amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include members of the LGBTQ community.

Jeremy Moss, Michigan State Senator for district 11, has been leading the charge as the sponsor of the bill. He is the first openly gay candidate elected to the state senate. Moss invited Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to his district in January to sign an executive directive as a placeholder until the bill can be passed. 

Thirty-six cities and townships in Michigan have passed similar resolutions dating back to 1972 in East Lansing. On top of that, 18 states and the District of Columbia have adopted legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity. 

Mount Pleasant Mayor William Joseph said he was happy the bill could gain traction. He said the city passed a similar ordinance in 2012 that provided protections to the LGBTQ community. That ordinance, similar to the one discussed in Isabella County, prohibited discrimination in employment, living and public accommodations.

"We supported the LGBTQ community, and (the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act) expands those protections to people," Joseph said. "I really hope that with the county, and hopefully other communities in the state, the legislature moves forward and puts this into law." 

Isabella County passed a similar resolution in December 2014. This resolution would be a refresher and call on the state to act. 

Commissioner James Moreno, who represents the fifth district of Isabella County, presented the motion to the Board. Much of the discussion was about the language in the proposal.The Board of Commissioners decided to include the phrase "gender expression." 

Moreno said the expansion of the act would help immensely throughout the state. He said he hopes students at Central Michigan University feel more accepted knowing they are in a community that supports them.

"I've talked to state lawmakers and they said that one of the best ways to effect change in policies is to pass resolutions like this," Moreno said. "It has the numbers of people and the language to move it.

"In politics, it's like a snowball rolling down a hill."