Press Release: Michigan Mayors Oppose Dangerous Bathroom Inspection Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: L. Michael Gipson
Organization: Equality Michigan
Phone: 313-537-7000 ext. 105
Email: mgipson@equalitymi.org

 

Lansing, MI–In the wake of the Orlando shooting, the most deadly anti-LGBT hate crime in American history and a dramatic illustration of the violence fomented by pervasive anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and discriminatory legislation, a dozen mayors released a statement today (printed in full below) strongly opposing dangerous and discriminatory bathroom inspection bills–SB 993 and HB 5717–that were recently introduced in the Michigan Legislature. These local leaders, who collectively represent over 1.6 million Michiganders, noted that the passage of such anti-LGBT legislation would risk prompting a North Carolina-style backlash with grave economic consequences for our state and it’s communities. The following mayors signed the statement of opposition:

 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalyn Bliss
Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor
Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero
Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell
Southfield Mayor Ken Siver
Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison
Oak Park Mayor Marian McClellan
East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows
Ferndale Mayor David Coulter
Ypsilanti Mayor Amanda Edmonds
Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers

 

“These mayors are on the frontlines of the ongoing battle to attract and retain top talent in Michigan every day,” said Equality Michigan Executive Director Stephanie White. “Having spent so much time and energy working to build communities that are welcoming to all, they understand better than anyone just how damaging anti-LGBT legislation is to our state.”

 

The mayors’ statement also notes that this legislation is an attack on local control that would rollback legal protections for transgender Michiganders that have been enacted in 38 cities and townships across Michigan. In each of these communities, comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinances have been adopted which prohibit public accommodation discrimination based on gender identity. HB 5717 would void these protections.

 

The mayors concluded their statement of opposition by calling on other local government officials–city, township, county, village, and school district–to speak out against SB 993 and HB 5717.

 

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Michigan Mayors Oppose Legislation Targeting Transgender Students

 

As mayors, we recognize that to attract and retain the best and the brightest in our cities and the state of Michigan, we must be welcoming to all.  We know that we are stronger and more economically competitive when we embrace everyone who wants to live, work, raise a family, and start a business in our communities. We also know that states and cities that are perceived as unwelcoming or that adopt discriminatory laws and policies suffer significantly as a result. It is for that reason that each of us was dismayed by the introduction of ill-conceived bathroom inspection bills–SB 993 and HB5717–that will ban transgender individuals from using facilities that align with their gender identity. In addition, HB5717 will void longstanding legal protections currently available to transgender Michiganders in the 38 communities across our state, which have enacted comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinances prohibiting public accommodation discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity. SB 993 and HB5717 are entirely unnecessary, dangerous, and discriminatory. Transgender people visit the restroom for the same reason as everyone else–to use it. And when they do, they want privacy, safety, and respect just like everyone else.

 

The proposed bathroom inspection bills simply do not reflect who we are nor who we want to be as Michiganders. We write today to express our strong opposition to the proposed bills and to urge the legislature to abandon any effort to enact such legislation in Michigan.

 

After North Carolina passed similar anti-LGBT legislation, hundreds of companies spoke out in opposition and called on that state legislature to repeal the law. Some employers have already taken steps to move their businesses elsewhere. The number of conventions, concerts, and other events canceled in North Carolina as a direct result of the anti-LGBT legislation has mounted daily. At a time when we are all working hard to reinvigorate Michigan’s economy and revitalize our communities, a North Carolina-style backlash is the very last thing that we need. In short, SB 993 and HB5717 are bad for our transgender residents and visitors and bad for the state of Michigan.  Rather than promoting counterproductive legislation targeting transgender students for discrimination, the legislature should instead prioritize the passage of legislation that will make Michigan more welcoming, such as a long-overdue amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

We also know that local units of government across Michigan have a long and proud history of supporting full equality for the LGBT community. We are asking our local government colleagues–city, township, county, village, and school district–to lead again by joining with us in opposing the proposed bathroom inspection bills.  You can add your name to this open letter by contacting:

 

Nathan Triplett
Director of Public Policy & Political Action
Equality Michigan
ntriplett@equalitymi.org
517-719-6499

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