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LGBT rights in Michigan


LGBT rights in Michigan

LGBT rights in Michigan
Michigan (USA)
Michigan (USA)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal statewide since 2003
(Lawrence v. Texas)
Gender identity/expression Altering sex on birth certificate requires sex reassignment surgery
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation and gender identity protections in state employment (see below)
Family rights
Adoption No

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Michigan face legal challenges non-LGBT residents do not. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Michigan. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all the protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Laws against same-sex intimate contact

Sexual acts between persons of the same sex are legal in Michigan. They had been criminalized until the state's sodomy laws, which applied to both homosexuals and heterosexuals, were invalidated in 2003 by the United States Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas.

Recognition of same-sex relationships

In 2004, voters approved a constitutional amendment, Michigan Proposal 04-2, that banned same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state. It passed with 58.6% of the vote.[1]

Same-sex marriage

On January 23, 2012, a lesbian couple filed a lawsuit, DeBoer v. Snyder in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, challenging the state's ban on adoption by same-sex couples in order to jointly adopt their children. On March 21, 2014, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Attorney General Bill Schuette filed for an emergency stay of his ruling with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.[2] On Saturday, March 22, 2014, four of Michigan's 83 county clerks opened their offices for special hours and issued more than 300 marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.[3] Later that day, the Sixth Circuit stayed Judge Friedman's order until March 26.[4] On March 25, 2014, the Sixth Circuit stayed the ruling indefinitely.[5] On March 28, 2014, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the federal government will recognize the same-sex marriages performed on March 22.[6]

On November 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit reversed the lower court's ruling and upheld Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.[7]

Domestic partnerships

Map of Michigan counties and cities that offer domestic partner benefits either county-wide or in particular cities.
  City offers domestic partner benefits
  County-wide partner benefits through domestic partnership
  County or city does not offer domestic partner benefits

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional amendment forbidding recognition of same-sex relationships meant that public employers in Michigan could not legally grant domestic partnership benefits to their employees. A law in effect since December 2011 banned most public employers, though not colleges and universities, from offering health benefits to the domestic partners of their employees. It did not extend to workers whose benefits are established by the Michigan Civil Service Commission. On June 28, 2013, U.S. District Judge David M. Lawson issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing its law banning local governments and school districts from offering health benefits to their employees' domestic partners.[8][9] He made that injunction permanent on November 12, 2014, when he ruled in Bassett v. Snyder that Michigan's restrictions on domestic partnership benefits were not related to a legitimate government purpose. He distinguished his ruling from the Sixth Circuit's ruling in DeBoer: "It is one thing to say [as in DeBoer] that states may cleave to the traditional definition of marriage as a means of encouraging biologically complimentary couples to stay together and raise the offspring they produce.... It is quite another to say that a state may adopt a narrow definition of family, and pass laws that penalize those unions and households that do not conform."[10]

Discrimination protections

On December 23, 2003, Governor Jennifer Granholm issued an executive order prohibiting employment discrimination state-level public sector employment on the basis of sexual orientation. The order only covers employees of the State of Michigan and does not cover public sector employees of county, school, or local-level governments.[11] On November 22, 2007, Governor Jennifer Granholm extended her executive order to include gender identity.[12] This executive order would be extended under Governor Rick Snyder.

On March 14, 2013, the Michigan State Senate passed, by a 37-0 vote, an emergency harbor dredging funding bill that made private marinas ineligible for a new loan program if they discriminate based on sexual orientation. On March 20, 2013, the Michigan House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 106-4. On March 27, 2013, Governor Rick Snyder signed an emergency harbor dredging funding bill that made private marinas ineligible for a new loan program if they discriminate based on sexual orientation.[13][14] Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is also prohibited in state government employment, but there are no other state-wide protections. Ingham, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in government employment.[15] Over thirty local municipalities have local human rights ordinances which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in employment and housing.[16]

Map of Michigan counties, cities, and townships that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment
Municipality Gender
Adrian Yes Yes Yes Yes April 21, 2014[17]
Ann Arbor[18] Yes (1999)[19] Yes Yes Yes 1978[20]
Battle Creek Yes Yes Yes Yes September 3, 2013[21]
Birmingham No Yes No Yes 1992[20]
Canton Township Yes Yes Yes Yes June 11, 2014[22]
Dearborn Heights Yes Yes Yes Yes 2006[20]
Delhi Township Yes Yes Yes Yes October 1, 2013[23]
Delta Township Yes Yes Yes Yes October 21, 2013[24]
Detroit[18] Yes (2008)[19] Yes Yes Yes 1979[20]
Village of Douglas[20] Yes Yes Yes Yes 1995[20]
East Lansing Yes (2005)[19] Yes Yes Yes March 7, 1972[25][note 1]
Fenton Yes Yes Yes Yes June 9, 2014[26][27]
Ferndale[18] Yes Yes Yes Yes 2006[19][20][note 2]
Flint No[note 3] Yes No Yes 1990[20]
Grand Ledge No Yes Yes Yes 2000[20]
Grand Rapids Yes Yes Yes Yes 1994[19][20]
Huntington Woods Yes Yes Yes Yes 2001[20][note 4]
Kalamazoo Yes Yes Yes Yes 2009[19][20][note 5]
Kalamazoo Township Yes Yes Yes Yes July 22, 2013[31]
Lansing[18] Yes Yes Yes Yes 2006[19][20]
Lathrup Village Yes Yes Yes Yes February 24, 2014[32]
Linden Yes Yes Yes Yes September 12, 2013[33]
Meridian Township Yes Yes No Yes July 10, 2013[34]
Mount Pleasant[35] Yes Yes Yes Yes July 9, 2012[29][36][37]
Muskegon Yes Yes Yes Yes March 12, 2012[29][38]
Oshtemo Township Yes Yes Yes Yes August 27, 2013[39]
Pleasant Ridge Yes Yes Yes Yes March 4, 2013[28][note 6]
Royal Oak Yes Yes Yes Yes November 5, 2013[40][note 7]
Saginaw No Yes No Yes 1984[20]
Saugatuck Yes Yes Yes Yes 2007[19][20]
Saugatuck Township Yes Yes Yes Yes 2007[20]
Sterling Heights Yes Yes Yes Yes June 17, 2014[41]
Traverse City Yes Yes Yes Yes October 4, 2010[42][note 8]
Trenton Yes Yes Yes Yes November 12, 2013[44]
Union Township Yes Yes Yes Yes October 11, 2012[29][35]
Ypsilanti Yes Yes Yes Yes 1997[19][20]


  1. ^ East Lansing was the first community in the United States to enact civil rights protections that included sexual orientation.[25]
  2. ^ Ferndale voters passed the measure in 2006 after three voter referendums since the time it was first proposed in 1991.[28]
  3. ^ An ordinance expanding its non-discrimination ordinance was passed in 2012. However when the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) law was voted down statewide, all ordinances enacted in Flint by the EMF were removed, including the non-discrimination ordinance. Their previous non-discrimination ordinance is still in effect, but the gender expression component is not.[29]
  4. ^ In 2001, the city council approved the measure, but opponents gathered enough signatures to force a citywide ballot question on the ordinance. In November 2001, voters then approved the measure, 1,982 to 896.[30]
  5. ^ The ordinance was first passed in December 2008. It was repealed in January 2009 when opponents submitted petitions to force a public vote. The city drafted language that offered a compromise, including the exemption for religious organizations. The city council voted unanimously in June 2009 to pass it. Groups opposed to including sexual orientation and gender identity in the ordinance again submitted petitions — 1,273 signatures were needed, 2,088 were gathered. On November 4, 2009, the ordinance was upheld with 7,671 people voting “yes” and 4,731 voting “no” — 60% to 37%.[20]
  6. ^ On March 4, 2013 the Pleasant Ridge City Commission passed a human rights ordinance in a 6–1 vote which included sexual orientation. On April 9, 2013, the Commission voted unanimously to also prohibits biases based on HIV status and gender identity.[28]
  7. ^ In March 2013, the Royal Oak City Commission voted 6-1 to enact a human rights ordinance inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation. Opponents collected more than 1,000 petition signatures to override the commission’s vote and put the issue before Royal Oak voters in the November 2013 election. Royal Oak voters rejected a similar human rights ordinance in 2001 by a 2-1 margin, but passed the ordinance in 2013 by a margin of 6,654 votes for and 5,670 votes against the measure.[40]
  8. ^ On October 4, 2011, the Traverse City Commission approved the measure to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.[42] Opponents of the law collected signatures to require a referendum. On November 8, 2011, Traverse City residents voted 63% to 37% in favor of retaining the city ordinance.[43]

Hate crimes

Since 1992, sexual orientation is recognized for data collection about hate crimes in Michigan.[45]


Michigan has no statutory ban on same-sex couples adopting, and no Michigan state court has ever interpreted Michigan's statute as prohibiting such adoptions. However at least one other state court has ruled that unmarried individuals may not jointly petition to adopt.[46]

Two Michigan lesbians, who are raising three children adopted by only one of them, filed a lawsuit known as DeBoer v. Snyder in federal court in January 2012 seeking to have the state's ban on adoption by same-sex couples overturned.[47] and in September amended that suit to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage as well.[48]

In December 2012, the Michigan Court of Appeals, an intermediate-level court, ruled in Usitalo v. Landon that the state's courts have jurisdiction to grant second-parent adoptions by same-sex couples.[49]

See also


  1. ^ "Election 2004 Ballot Measures". CNN. Retrieved November 30, 2006. 
  2. ^ "Judge strikes down Michigan ban on gay marriage; state asks for a stay". Detroit Free Press. March 22, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Michigan's 1st Gay Marriage License Issued". ABC News. March 22, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ Egan, Paul (March 22, 2014). "Michigan gay marriages could fall into legal limbo". USA Today. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Court indefinitely suspends overturn of gay marriage ban in Michigan". Daily News. Associated Press. March 25, 2014. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  6. ^ Jonathan Oosting. "Attorney General Eric Holder: Federal government will recognize same-sex marriages in Michigan". Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  7. ^ Eckholm, Erik. "Court Upholds Four States' Bans on Same-Sex Marriage". Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  8. ^ White, Ed (June 28, 2013). "Mich. ban on domestic partner benefits blocked". Pioneer Press. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  9. ^ Lederman, Marty (July 1, 2013). "After Windsor: Michigan same-sex partners benefits suit advances". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved July 2, 2013. 
  10. ^ Johnson, Chris (November 12, 2014). "Court rules against Michigan ban on DP benefits". Washington Blade. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  11. ^ "EXECUTIVE DIRECTIVE No. 2003-24". June 1, 2005. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  12. ^ Michigan Broadens Discrimination Protections
  13. ^ "Senate Bill 0252 (2013)". Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Harbor Dredging Law Includes LGBT Protections". March 29, 2013. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  15. ^ Stevenson, Jan (February 27, 2014). "Wayne County Adds LGBT Protections". Between the Lines. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Cities with Legal Protection".  
  17. ^ "33rd Michigan City Adds LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections". Unity Michigan. June 10, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Municipal Equality Index".  
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Cities and Counties with Non-Discrimination Ordinances that Include Gender Identity".  
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Manwell, Annette (June 18, 2011). "Holland could face long battle over human rights changes".  
  21. ^ "Battle Creek, Mich., bars anti-LGBT discrimination in housing, employment". LGBTQ Nation (Battle Creek, MI). September 6, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Canton board adopts equal rights rules, draws praise". Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  23. ^ Kangas, Will (October 4, 2013). "Delhi Township OKs law banning discrimination based on sexual preference". Lansing State Journal (Delhi Township, Michigan). Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  24. ^ Khalil, Joe (October 21, 2013). "Anti-Discriminatory Ordinance Passes in Delta Township". Delta Township, Michigan: WLNS-TV. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b Millich, Gretchen (March 6, 2012). "East Lansing Marks 40th Anniversary of Gay Rights Ordinance". WKAR-FM. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Fenton bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity". June 9, 2014. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  27. ^ File Photo (June 5, 2014). "Fenton considers ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation". Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  28. ^ a b c Kavanaugh, Catherine (September 3, 2013). "Pleasant Ridge human rights law takes effect". The Oakland Press. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b c d Proxmire, Crystal A. (January 10, 2013). "Non Discrimination Ordinances Spread Equality City by City".  
  30. ^ T. Alexander Smith, Raymond Tatalovich (2003). Cultures at War: Moral Conflicts in Western Democracies. Toronto, Ontario:  
  31. ^ Monacelli, Emily (July 22, 2013). "Non-discrimination ordinance passed in 6-0 vote by Kalamazoo Township board". Kalamazoo Gazette (Kalamazoo Township, Michigan). Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Lathrup Village adds gay rights to anti-bias law". San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. February 25, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  33. ^ Aldridge, Chris (September 12, 2013). "Linden enacts ordinance protecting residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity". (Linden, MI). Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Meridian Township Adopts Inclusive Policies". Between the Lines. July 18, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  35. ^ a b "Union Township adopts 'human rights' law". The Morning Sun. October 12, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Ordinance No. 973". City of Mount Pleasant. Retrieved August 20, 2012. The City intends that no individual be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be denied the enjoyment of his or her civil rights or be discriminated against because of his or her [...] sexual orientation or gender identity. 
  37. ^ Pomber, Phil (July 10, 2012). "Mount Pleasant approves anti-discrimination law at Monday City Commission meeting". Central Michigan Life. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  38. ^ Alexander, Dave (March 12, 2012). "Lesbian-gay anti-discrimination policy accepted by Muskegon City Commission".  
  39. ^ Wilcox, Fran (August 27, 2013). "Oshtemo Township adopts non-discrimination ordinance". The Kalamazoo Gazette (Oshtemo Township, Michigan). Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  40. ^ a b AlHajal, Khalil (November 5, 2013). "Gay rights ordinance passes in Royal Oak". Michigan Live. Retrieved December 7, 2013. 
  41. ^ Watson, Ursula (June 19, 2014). "Sterling Heights OKs sexual orientation non-discrimination ordinance". Detroit News. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  42. ^ a b Bukowski, Art (October 5, 2010). "TC approves anti-discrimination ordinance". Traverse City Record-Eagle (Traverse City, Michigan). Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Traverse City voters approve gay-rights law". The Morning Sun (Traverse City, Michigan). Associated Press. April 27, 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  44. ^ "Ordinance 777". City of Trenton. Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  45. ^ "Section 28.257a". March 30, 1992. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  46. ^ "Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down adoption ban". Kenn News Service. April 7, 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  47. ^ "Michigan adoption ban for unmarried couples being challenged in court today". Detroit News. August 29, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2012. 
  48. ^ Ferretti, Christine (September 7, 2012). "Hazel Park women challenge Michigan's marriage amendment". Detroit News. Retrieved September 7, 2012. 
  49. ^ "ACLU Praises Appeals Court Decision on Same-Sex Second-Parent Adoption, December 13, 2012". ACLU. Retrieved September 30, 2014. The Michigan Appeals Court ruled this week that family court judges have jurisdiction to grant second-parent adoptions to same-sex couples... 
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