In 2019, it’s hard to believe we’re still having this conversation—but in response to House Speaker Lee Chatfield’s ignorant comments about why he doesn’t believe in protecting LGBTQ+ Michiganders’ civil rights, let’s make one thing really clear: Despite Chatfield’s bizarre world view, civilized society must not protect bigotry.
Of course, this isn’t new. It’s the same nonsense we hear from the #AllLivesMatter crowd and angry men whose response to the #MeToo movement is to double down on harassment and smash their Gillette-branded razors—and it has to stop. These are people proclaiming victimhood based on their bigotry being called out. It is an utterly twisted view of reality that ignores the history and reality of discrimination against people based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
Here in Michigan, most civil rights protections come from the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which covers discrimination based on factors like race, sex, religion, and national origin. However, gender identity and sexual orientation aren’t mentioned, which leaves the LGBTQ+ community without the same civil rights protections everyone else enjoys.
Simplified: Under Michigan law, anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination is legal, and Lee Chatfield wants to keep it that way. He denies the lived experiences of discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ Michiganders. He ignores the fact that same-sex couples are denied the right to adopt and refuses to recognize these families’ rights to equal protection under the law.
What Chatfield’s pushing for is to protect bigotry. He doesn’t believe bakers or others supposedly serving the public should have to admit that gay people are people and serve them as such.
Lee Chatfield doesn’t have a good faith argument for civil rights violations because there are no such arguments, so he claims victimhood in an attempt to excuse bigotry. As House Speaker, Chatfield is choosing to further oppression instead of standing up for vulnerable communities in our state – and that’s unacceptable.