MDCR Report Finds Negative Economic Impact to Allowing Discrimination Against LGBT in Michigan
Enclosed you will find our "Report on LGBT Inclusion under Michigan Law with Recommendations for Action" which is the result of a grant provided by the TIDES Foundation to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The report, which is the culmination of a yearlong research project, took well in excess of 2,000 staff hours to research, analyze and complete.
The purpose of this report is not to take sides on or even address the moral and religious issues related to homosexuality. Similarly, we did not intend to, and we have not endeavored to, create a document with the purpose of changing views on homosexuality. The Department recognizes and respects the rights of individuals to hold their own opinions, especially where moral, spiritual or religious beliefs are involved.
The Department also did not set out to determine whether it would, or would not, support amending the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to include protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. This Department and the Civil Rights Commission have long been on record as supporting this and other public policy changes that would ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are treated fairly and equally in the public sphere.
Michigan is currently fighting its way back economically. Public policy makers across the political spectrum have indicated that their first priority is Michigan's economic recovery. Therefore, what we wished to do here was to assess whether, in addition to issues about equality and the rights of individuals, there are also economic considerations that public policy makers ought to be considering when debating LGBT inclusive legislation and policies. We have long heard others suggest that there was a connection, but we wanted to determine if empirical data supported it. We thus set out to review whatever information was available, and even seek some of our own, in order to assess whether the presence/absence of inclusiveness in a state's laws and protections had a direct impact on its economic vitality.
This report is therefore not an attempt to make or rebut arguments on all of the issues that might be grouped under a heading of "LGBT rights." For the moment, we set aside the question of whether LGBT inclusiveness is intrinsically "good" or "bad" policy, and ask only whether it is also economic policy. We find that it is.
This project and report focus primarily on laws like ELCRA which prohibit discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodation. It is through these laws that state civil rights policies most directly affect businesses, and thus where their economic impact can most easily be observed. It is also where the greatest data is available. Our focusing primarily on these laws should not be interpreted as discounting numerous other public policies and laws that, because they relate to whether Michigan is seen as welcoming or not, also play a role in decisions made by individuals that then impact Michigan's economic well-being. Policies like same parent adoption, partner health benefits, and even marriage all may have economic consequences to one extent or another, but are not analyzed in the pages that follow.
We do not believe that this report mandates particular conclusions must be drawn on the merits of particular legislation; instead we assert that the report conclusively establishes that the economic implications of LGBT inclusion/exclusion are real, they are substantial, they are predictable and they must be a part of any informed policy discussion.
The Department thus presents this report to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission along with recommendations for next steps based on our findings, and in the hopes that the report itself will cause public policy makers to weigh the economic consequences of being non-inclusive, and thus unwelcoming to all.
MDCR Report on LGBT Inclusion