Yesterday, local elected officials from across Michigan stood in solidarity to announce that they were signing on to the Local Electeds Against Discrimination (LEAD) statement. This statement recognizes the 18 cities across the state that have put non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people in place, and expresses the hope that other communities, as well as the state Legislature, will enshrine these protections in law.
Sounds uncontroversial, right? Surely in the year 2012 there is nothing outrageous about the idea that no one should have to live in fear that they could be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance. It could be argued that this is a concept that would appeal to Republicans in Lansing. Making our state welcoming and fair to everyone so we can attract and retain a vibrant creative class that will fuel innovation and entrepreneurship should be a nonpartisan issue.
Well if you thought those things, you’d be wrong. Rep. Tom McMillin, a Republican who ran for office (and won his first election by just 123 votes) on promises that he would bring fiscal responsibility to Lansing, introduced a bill last year aimed squarely at these efforts. HB 5039 would eliminate every local government’s ability to pass any kind of non-discrimination ordinance. Never one to miss an opportunity to bully those whose views differ from his own, Rep. McMillin released a statement yesterday trumpeting his belief that the debate should be controlled by Lansing. Unfortunately, this breathtaking bigotry is par for the course for Rep. McMillin, one of the most ideological lawmakers in Lansing.
If you can’t fathom what relationship there is between fiscal conservatism and denying equal protection under the law to every Michigander, you’re not alone. But since HB 5039 has been stalled in the House for months, there is something you can do to get involved in the fight for equality. In Michigan, you can be fired from your job just because of who you are. That’s not right. Make sure to check out DontChangeYourself.com for updates, and get in touch with your state lawmaker to demand that they stand up for all of their constituents – not just those who agree with their beliefs.