Lately, I've been hearing a lot of talk here in Western Michigan about the mysterious Elliott Larsen.

Seems like everyone is meeting, planning, forming opinions, and talking about this “Elliott Larsen” over coffee.  Even my good friend Susan asked me in a hushed voice, "Just who is this Elliott Larsen?"

As it turns out, Elliott Larsen isn’t a person – it is an Act.

Named after its two authors, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act was passed in 1976 to protect Michiganders against discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.

It has gone through some changes since 1976, but can you see the big, missing group?

The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act does not protect our state's LGBT community from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

As a lesbian in Michigan, my friend Susan is a sitting duck. Under our current law, Susan can be:

  • legally fired from her job with no legal recourse.
  • denied employment based simply on who she loves.
  • denied a place to live,
  • denied a place to dine.

Almost every place that we take for granted could be denied to Susan simply because she has a loving, happy family life that some legislators don't approve of. It is simply wrong.

 The ACLU of Michigan is mobilizing to stop this injustice, teaming up with a coalition of civil rights organizations and everyday Michiganders to launch the Don't Change Yourself: Change the Law campaign.

Join us today and tell House Speaker Bolger to change the law to protect all Michiganders. Once we have completed collecting signatures, we will deliver them to Speaker Bolger on behalf of all the equality-loving residents of our state.

Over here in Western Michigan, I feel a very strong undercurrent of excitement and a positive energy. People are coming together to educate and empower themselves - people who sensibly believe that liberty and justice for all means everyone.

By Julia Henshaw, West Michigan Administrative Assistant