The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, July 5, 2005 - 3
Anti-discrimination bill gets GOP support
bill that would outlaw
By Justin Miller
Daily News Editor
Months after he searched for Repub-
lican co-sponsors for a bill outlawing
discrimination against gays, lesbians,
bisexual and transgender people, State
Rep. Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor) intro-
duced his bill with three GOP co-spon-
sors signing their support.
Reps. Edward Gaffney (R-Grosse
Pointe Farms), John Stewart (R-Plym-
outh) and Lorence Wenke (R-Rich-
land) have signed on as co-sponsors
to Kolb's bill that would amend the
Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to pro-
hibit discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation, gender expression
and gender identity.
The Elliot-Larsen act specifically
prohibits discrimination in employment,
public accommodations, public servic-
es, education and housing. Stewart and
Wenke also co-sponsored two bills that
Kolb has also introduced to make vio-
lent crimes against LGBT people a hate
crime, which carries lengthier penalties
than normal violent crimes.
Kolb said in April that he would intro-
duce the bills by the end of the month
with or without the Republican co-spon-
sors he was actively seeking out - a
decision he postponed when slow prog-
ress had been made to get support from
members of the GOP.
"I was trying to get the groups that
were up here lobbying time to have
some impact on the legislators and
there was a lot going on at that time. We
asked people and we were waiting to get
someone on board," Kolb said.
Kolb said one unnamed Republican
agreed to be a co-sponsor first, and the
other two followed, probably because
they felt more comfortable once their
colleague had signed on. Kolb said he
did not cut deals with his co-sponsors,
but asked them to sign on after they saw
"One of the reasons we wanted to get
Republican co-sponsors was to show
that (the bill) had support in the legis-
lature and could get some movement,"
Kolb said, referring also to the commit-
tees the bills will be sent to.
Last year Kolb's bills had not been
given a hearing by committees, prevent-
ing them from being voted on. There were
no Republican co-sponsors - and fewer
co-sponsors - for last year's legislation
than there are for this year's set of bills.
Last year's defeat aside, similar
efforts to amend the Elliot-Larsen act
have failed in every legislative session
since 1998 - something Kolb believes
is less likely to happen with bi-partisan
"I think that helps in moving legisla-
tion ... to have members of the majority
party to say 'we support this legislation."
'It speaks volumes," Kolb said.
Kolb said he felt that representatives
who voted against putting Proposal 2 on
the ballot for last November's election
and were re-elected made them feel that
supporting anti-discrimination and hate
crimes legislation for LGBT people was
not politically risky.
"I feel also part of it was that people
who voted against the marriage amend-
ment on the ballot did not loose their
election. This is what we were trying
to point out to elected officials: this is
not an issue that costs you your political
career," Kolb said.
Of the three Republicans co-spon-
soring the amendment to the Elliot-
Larsen act, only Wenke voted against
last session's bill that put Proposal 2on
Wenke and Stewart co-sponsored
both bills aimed at making violent
crime against LGBT people a hate
crime. Gaffney co-sponsored the bill
that adds crimes committed against
someone because of their sexual orien-
tation or gender expression and identity.
Gaffney did not co-sponsor the bill that
is also needed to change the sentencing
guideline for hate crimes.
Kolb said it is has been too long
without a change to the state's laws
to protect LGBT people from dis-
"We need to make sure we provide
legal protection from discrimination.
We believe it's high time that Michigan
move forward on these issues. People
today should not have the fear that
they'll lose their job soley because peo-
ple fear them or are part of the LGBT
community," Kolb said.
Kolb added that hate crime legisla-
tion was also important to stop the fear
that some have because of their sexual
orientation or gender identity.
"Hate crimes are not just commit-
ted against a single person, but they
are actually being committed against
a whole group of individuals. They're
usually much more violent and they're
done to intimidate and assault the
entire community," Kolb said.
Kolb said he expects to get move-
ment on the bill within the next year,
once the legislature is finished with
budgetary legislation. He already con-
siders the co-sponsors a win.
"Getting three Republican co-spon-
sors for the bill is a major victory.
We're going to take it one step at a
time," Kolb said.
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State Rep. Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor) announces support for an anti-discrimina-
tion bill at an LGBT rally on Jan. 12 at the capitol building in Lansing.
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