News Release: Catholic Conference Urges Religious Protections as Senate Committee Amends ELCRA

Every State That Has Amended Anti-Discrimination Law Has Included Religious Protections

The Michigan State Capitol building on a sunny day.

February 9, 2023

(Lansing, Mich.)—Earlier this afternoon the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee passed legislation that would add sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to the list of protected classes in Michigan’s civil rights law, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Prior to the committee passing Senate Bill 4, Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy Tom Hickson urged the committee to include protections for religious organizations and offered to work with members on finding common ground on language to do so. Hickson commented after the committee:

“Every state that has amended its anti-discrimination law—22 of them, and also the District of Columbia—has included protections for religious organizations. Unfortunately, Michigan appears to be going in an opposite and unprecedented direction. All people, regardless of their orientation or classification, are children of God and should be treated with dignity, respect and compassion. We acknowledge the passion that is part of this conversation and the work that has gone into today’s committee action.

“We strongly believe Michigan should include protections for religious organizations in Senate Bill 4 to avoid faith-based organizations, particularly those who believe marriage is between a man and a woman, from being targeted for litigation. We will try to find common ground on this topic. We have offered an olive branch to supporters of Senate Bill 4 and look forward to continued conversation on the Senate floor.”

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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