Republican-controlled Michigan Senate recognizes LGBTQ Pride Month

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News
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Lansing — The Michigan Senate adopted a resolution Thursday recognizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month, a move the proposal's sponsor contends is a first for the state Legislature.

The GOP-controlled Senate approved the resolution by Sen. Jeremy Moss in a voice vote, meaning there is no tally of who voted in support of or opposition to. All 16 Senate Democrats signed on as sponsors along with two Republican lawmakers: Sens. Jim Stamas of Midland and Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City.

"The people of Michigan understand, appreciate and value the cultural, civic and economic contributions of the LGBTQ communities to the greater community of the state and affirm a celebration of love, living authentically and accepting ourselves," the resolution says.

Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, speaks about proposed legislation that would expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act during a press conference on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at the state Capitol.

Moss, a Southfield Democrat and the Senate's only openly gay member, said the vote was symbolic yet "incredibly significant."

"I do hope that this statement today that LGTBQ lives are valid and contribute culturally, civically and economically to the state of Michigan is a sign of increased willingness to learn from our lived experiences even though they might not be your own," Moss said in a speech on the Senate floor. "I appreciate this first step on that journey."

For years, the Michigan Legislature has resisted proposals that would expand the state's civil rights law to prohibit bias against gay and transgender residents. And last week, the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee considered a controversial bill that would require high school athletes to compete on sports teams based on their "biological sex."

The chamber historically has approved commemorative resolutions, like the one proposed by Moss this week, said Abby Walls, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake.

But Moss introduced similar resolutions to recognize June as Pride Month in 2019 and 2020, and the Senate didn't adopt either. Those resolutions, which were worded differently, contained a "policy component," Walls said. Resolutions with policy in them can be a "mixed bag" when it comes to adoption, she said.

The 2020 resolution featured language that supported amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Michigan. The 1976 law bars discrimination based on religion, race, age, sex and other attributes.

Democratic officeholders touted the Senate's decision. Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, credited Moss. Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, called it a "big day."

"Great leadership by @JeremyAllenMoss in moving the Senate to recognize #Pride month in Michigan," tweeted Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor.

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