It happened quietly late last week. Republican Senator David B. Robertson (R-14) introduced a piece of legislation that would prohibit Michigan municipalities from discriminating against certain individuals…. based on their breed.
Yep, Michigan Republicans want to extend Elliott-Larsen-type protections to dogs:
While we certainly don’t wish to begrudge Michigan dogs their due, it seems particularly insulting of Robertson to prioritize offering these canine protections as Senate lawmakers are contemporaneously considering a package of bills intended to expand discrimination against LGBT adoptive parents — of the human variety. Coupled with their continued refusal to extend Elliott-Larsen rights based on sexual orientation, GOP lawmakers prove they are literally prepared to put dogs ahead of humanity.
Additionally, we wouldn’t put it past the Michigan legislature to take another stab at a Religious Freedom Restoration Act law, even in the face of Indiana’s idiocy and well-deserved backlash. The Michigan Republican caucus has a storied history of repeated imperviousness to reason — they seem to revel in passing abusive, unpopular laws.
Update (3-31-15): Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-16) has told the Detroit Free Press he intends to push for his RFRA bill in Michigan which has been idling in committee since late January. The announcement came as Gov. Pence of Indiana publicly melted-down under fierce scrutiny. Gov. Snyder’s office weighed in:
“Without accompanying changes to the Elliott Larsen act, he’s indicated some concern about a standalone RFRA bill,” Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said Monday. “I’d reiterate how strongly the governor feels about discrimination being wrong, plain and simple.”
Beyond Indiana, numerous states currently have various RFRA statutes on the books, and others have flirted with the idea, including Michigan’s previous legislature who passed such a bill in the House during the 2014 lame duck session. Thankfully, the proposal failed to gain traction in the Senate.
In a 2014 article, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Michigan among the five worst states for LGBT residents, specifically citing crime directed at transgender individuals, and an overall hostile legislature as reason to avoid the state:
This wave of anti-LGBT violence is part of the reason why Detroit was named the most dangerous city in the nation for gay travelers, and the survey also cited the metro area’s dwindling number of gay bars and high poverty rate. Dave Garca, the executive director of Affirmations LGBT center, told CBS that the state’s legislature isn’t helping matters. “It is still legal to fire people in Michigan for being gay, we can not marry, cannot adopt, and the governor signed away domestic partner benefits for LGBT public employees,” Garcia said. He argues it has “created an anti-gay environment across the entire state.”
On the bright side (if there is one), now that these retrograde laws are drawing increasing fire from the business community, it is unlikely Gov. Snyder would be willing to sign into law a RFRA attempt in Michigan. One hopes.
UPDATE (4-3-15): Gov. Snyder told the Detroit Free Press he would veto a RFRA bill:
“Given all the events that are happening in Indiana, I thought it would be good to clarify my position,” he said. “I would veto RFRA legislation in Michigan if it is a standalone piece of legislation.”
The statement was a highly unusual one from a governor who has avoided such definitive positions. When he has been confronted with legislation he doesn’t particularly like, previously he has said only it’s not on his agenda or that he’s focused on issues of economic importance to the state.
Amy Kerr Hardin