Community makes new push for LGBT protection in Michigan

Movement follows Donald Trump victory in presidential election

DETROIT – There have been multiple stops and starts over the last three years to include Michigan LGBT people as a protected class under the state constitution, both in the state legislature and a ballot initiative, but the efforts have gone nowhere.

Tuesday night, there was a renewed call for action spurred by President-elect Donald Trump's victory in the election.

Even though Trump made it clear in a 60 Minutes interview that he considers marriage equality a settled issue, LGBT-rights pioneers see nothing but bad news ahead.

Michigan was at the forefront of the gay marriage fight that ultimately succeeded at the Supreme Court. Two Hazel Park nurses wanted to be able to adopt each other's children.

Their attorney, Dana Nessel, sees nothing but trouble ahead for the Supreme Court decision that allowed them to get married, now that Republicans control the presidency, the House and the Senate.

"We're going to have to have to be expecting some terrible decision to be handed down, and the only way we prevent this from happening is to pass a constitutional amendment to protect LGBT people," Nessel said.

Nessel tried to put a bipartisan coalition together during the last election cycle to get an LGBT civil-rights ordinance on the ballot, but got pushback in the gay community because many thought it wasn't the right time. She thinks Trump might not have flipped Michigan if it had been on the ballot.

"I think it would have inspired a lot of people to come out and vote that didn't vote at all, particularly people in the Millennial generation," Nessel said.

The Michigan Legislature tackled adding protection for gays, and it would have passed had it just been gays. Transgendered people were the sticking point that made the whole thing blow up at the legislative level.

Nessel said she sees no way forward legislatively in Michigan. She's pushing a ballot proposal for the 2018 election year.

"What else are we going to do? Just sit and wait and hope that our rights aren't stripped away and we wake up one morning and all of a sudden they are just gone?" Nessel said.

Sign up for ClickOnDetroit Email Newsletters (click here) for more stories like this.

About the Authors: