Opinion: Change Michigan law, not yourself
Hi Michigan. Meet Curtis ... I’m a lot like my friend Tom.
Right now in my home state of Michigan, you can be fired just for being gay. Anyone can legally be fired from their job, denied housing, or kicked out of a restaurant if someone even thinks you might be gay or transgender.
It’s true and it happened to me.
Over the past few years, members of a coalition of lesbian, gay, bi, transgender and allied groups have been working hard to change that law, but the trouble is that most people think protections for this unique population already exist. That's why Don't Change Yourself
, a project of Unity Michigan Coalition, wants Michigan to meet Tom ... and we need your help.
The Elliot Larsen Civil Right Act (Act 453 of 1976) states that an employer is prohibited from discrimination against many protected classes, including religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected.
That’s why Unity Michigan Coalition members (ACLU of Michigan, Affirmations, Equality Michigan, Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian resource Center, KICK - The Agency for LGBT African Americans, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion and The Ruth Ellis Center) want you and your friends to "Meet Tom" in this video
and learn about why Michigan needs to update the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
When I was fired for being gay, I was devastated and had no clue what to do. Once I discovered that I wasn't protected, I thought of leaving the state. After experiencing grief, anger and disappointment I was determined not to be run out of my home. I chose to fight so that Michigan is a safe place to work, live and play.
I work for a great organization: KICK
- the Agency for LGBT African Americans, a Michigan member-based nonprofit. Our mission is to increase awareness of and provide support to Detroit’s dynamic LGBT culture through education and advocacy with integrity and pride.
Since 2003, we’ve implemented programs, services, projects, activities and campaigns to improve the quality of life for residents who love their home and family. I’m proud to lead an organization that believes this partnership will result in a unified voice that benefits all of Michiganders, including my friend Tom.
Curtis Lipscomb is a longtime resident of Detroit and has been active in community relations. He has been involved with numerous non-profit organizations for over 20 years, particularly organizations advocating for the lesbian, bi-attractional and transgender (LGBT) community. Lipscomb is the executive director of KICK – The Agency of LGBT African-Americans at the Center In Detroit; co-founder of Hotter Than July, Detroit's LGBT pride celebration; winner of the 2012 Black Male Engagement (BMe) Challenge, co-planner of the 2012 national White House Conference of LGBT Housing and Homelessness at Wayne State University; organizer of the United States Small Business Administration & National Black Justice Coalition's Economic Empowerment Tour. Lipscomb was also the development director for AIDS Partnership and AIDS Walk Michigan.