Governor Whitmer signs expansion of Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act

HCDP News for March 21, 2023

In This Email

Mar 21, 2023

  • Party News

    • NEW: Governor Whitmer Signs Expansion of Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act

    • NEW: Banning Books in Michigan

    • Spring Fling Planning Underway

    • NEW: More Good Things Happening in Lansing

  • Upcoming Events

    • NEW: Spring FLARE

    • NEW: League of Women Voters Sponsors Talk on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

    • NEW: Campaign & Community Events


Superior Fab Lab, a local non-profit, held their first annual "Maker Fest" this past weekend, and we were happy to loan them our equipment to support their "Design and Make Your Own Button" activity. We want to thank Superior Fab Lab for the opportunity to help.

If you have other ideas for service projects we should consider, please email William Keith at [email protected].

Party News

Governor Whitmer Signs Expansion of Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act

On Thursday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) signed into law a landmark bill to protect the state’s LGBTQ community. The bill is an expansion of the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Since 2018 the state’s Civil Rights Commission has investigated cases of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community, considering such complaints to be covered under existing laws against discrimination on the basis of sex. Last July the state Supreme Court ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation was illegal. The bill that Governor Whitmer signed codifies and explicitly puts into law protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity.

It is now illegal for employers, businesses and others in Michigan to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Right now, there’s a nationwide assault on our LGBTQ+ community, especially our trans neighbors, family and friends,” Whitmer said. “There are state legislatures across this country dedicating themselves to legalizing discrimination. It’s dangerous, it’s wrong and it’s un-American.”

The ACLU reports that it is tracking more than 400 bills targeting LGBTQ rights that have been introduced in state legislatures so far this year - and it’s only March. One state in particular - Florida - is leading this assault, and it’s governor is a top contender for nomination as the Republican presidential candidate in 2024.

We should all be grateful for the work that Governor Whitmer and Michigan’s Democratic legislators put in to deliver this bill. But we need to continue to put in the hard work necessary to ensure these rights not only for Michiganders but for all Americans.

Looking for ways you can support LGBTQ civil rights and the LGBTQ people in your life? 

If you are new to being an ally to the gay community, the article Choose Inclusivity: How To Be A LGBT Ally For A Better World! is a good place to start.

If you’re concerned about the right wing actions against the Trans community and want to know more about how to support transgendered people, the National Center on Trans Equality is a great resource.

Push for action on the national level by learning more about and supporting the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus and their efforts to pass national LGBTQ civil rights legislation.

Governor Whitmer signs legislation making it illegal for employers, businesses and others to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

Banning Books in Michigan

Efforts from the right to ban books in public libraries in Michigan and across the country continue with no signs of let up. One of the latest efforts is in the lower Michigan community of Lapeer where the outrage machine has genned up concern over the book Gender Queer, a graphic novel aimed at late teens and adults. The book follows the author's exploration of gender identity, ultimately leading to identifying as non-binary. It is not a surprise that the book at issue in Lapeer is an LGBT book with Trans content.

The library keeps the book in their adult section (though anyone can check it out) and reports it has been very popular and in constant circulation. The book has been identified by the American Library Association as one of the most challenged books on library shelves since 2021. One of the reasons is that the graphic novel depicts a couple of scenes that include sex acts.

What makes the Lapeer case noteworthy is the fact that the Lapeer County Prosecutor John Miller has threatened to consider filing criminal charges against library officials over the controversial book, though experts suggest such charges would not be successful.

The book was discussed at the library's Board meeting this past Thursday, which was packed. Public comment lasted for three hours and involved dozens of people, including the prosecutor Miller. The meeting prompted local media headlines about a "divided community", which only serves to further feed the outrage machine. As things stand now no decision has been made on the book by the Board, and their next meeting is April 20.

One thing you can do about the efforts on the right to ban books is to follow and support the MI Right to Read initiative of the Michigan Library Association. Their In the News page provides updates on book banning efforts in our state, while the Take Action page provides concrete steps for local action.

Spring Fling '23 Planning Under Way

It's that time of year! The planning team has met, and things are getting organized for another Spring Fling. Start thinking Spring, and mark June 10th on your calendar for our annual get together.

We'll have more information on the event as we get closer to June 10th.

We will be running a silent auction as a fundraiser during the Spring Fling, as we've done in past years. If you'd like to donate an item for auction, or have ideas for donations please email Barb Turuc at [email protected].

If you'd like to place an ad in our annual program please contact Steve Blackburn at [email protected].

More Good Things Happening in Lansing

Good things are continuing to happen in the Michigan legislature. Here are highlights from the last week:

  • Governor Whitmer has signed the historic LGBTQ rights bill - see the main item above.

  • The new legislation that 1)repeals the 1931 law making it a four-year felony to perform abortions in Michigan except for life-threatening pregnancies and 2) repeals a ban on medicine, drugs or substances that could be used to induce a miscarriage is on the Governor's desk. She is expected to sign it before the end of the month.

  • Following a rally for gun reform this past Tuesday, on Wednesday the Senate approved a sweeping package of bills aimed at curbing gun violence. The Senate bills now head to the House, which last week approved its own universal background check legislation and could take up the other bills as soon as this week. More info...

  • Along party lines, the Michigan Senate voted to repeal the 2012 GOP backed "Right to Work" law, sending the bill back to the House for final approval. Governor Whitmer has already said she will sign the bill. Passage of the bill would make Michigan one of the first states to repeal its Right to Work law. More info...

 We'll continue following along and summarizing legislative actions as the Democrats in Lansing continue to keep up the pace.

Upcoming Events

Spring FLARE

Presented by Keweenaw Pride and the Sustainable Futures Association at MTU, Spring FLARE (Festival of Love, Arts, Radiance, and Empowerment) is a celebration of the diverse artistry, identities, and talents of the Keweenaw Community! Student Organizations, local artists, musicians, and small businesses will have space in the Rosza to host activities, art sales, craft booths, musical performances, raffles and more! The event is free to attend. Donations and proceeds from raffle tickets will go to the Copper Country Humane Society.

WHEN: TONIGHT Tuesday March 21st from 6 PM until 10 PM

WHERE: Rozsa Center at Michigan Tech

League of Women Voters Sponsors Talk on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

The League of Women Voters of the Copper Country is sponsoring a talk on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, now being considered under legislation introduced in Lansing. Learn about the effort to make “one person, one vote” carry over into Presidential elections.

WHEN: Thursday March 23rd at 6:30 PM

WHERE: Portage Lake District Library

ZOOM: Join Zoom Meeting at this link 

Meeting ID: 828 8260 6064

Passcode: 627039

Campaign and Community Events

Tue. 3/21:

  • The Calumet Village Council meets tonight at 6:30 PM in the Village Council Chambers. More information on the Council, it's committees, and minutes of past meetings can be found on the Council's webpage.

  • The Laurium Village Council meets tonight at 6 PM in the Council Chambers of the Town Hall. More info can be found on the Village's website.

Wed. 3/15

  • The Houghton City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The Meeting Agenda can be found in the Searchable Document Center of the Council's website.

Thur 3/23

  • Thursday is the start of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of fasting for many Muslims in the United States. More than 3 million Muslims live in the US. It is considered the holiest month on the Islamic calendar. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars (fundamental religious duties) of Islam. It is a time of self-examination and increased religious devotion. The month ends on April 22nd with Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast.