Group Brings Civil Rights Demands to Capitol
Reform to States Gross Indecency, Sodomy Laws Are Focus of Agenda
MSU State News, March 1999
By Mary Sell
State News staff writer
With intent to capture the attention of Michigan residents and demand equal rights, a
group of civil rights activists met at the Capitol on Thursday to review antigay laws.
Members of the Triangle Foundation, a Detroitbased civil rights group, released a
report outlining changes the Legislature would need to make to ensure equal treatment for
lesbians, bisexuals, gays and transgendered residents.
The report, "The State of the State: GLBT Equality in Michigan," included
adding sexual orientation to Michigans hate crime legislation and ridding the state
of sodomy and gross indecency laws.
"The fact of the matter is that LBGT people are not afforded full civil rights or
status," executive director Jeffrey Montgomery said. "That should not just
outrage LBGT people, but all people who value their freedom."
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are in danger of being considered
secondclass citizens, Montgomery said.
Next week starts Equality Begins at Home, a national campaign to draw attention to
efforts to pass hate crime laws, civil rights laws, supportive family laws and to fight
In Michigan, lesbians, bisexuals, gays and transgendered people are not protected by
the states civil rights act. By law, gays and lesbians are not allowed to marry and
employers do not have to extend insurance benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian
People also can be fired or demoted because of their sexual orientation, said Chris
Swope, of the Lansing Association for Human Rights. He said only nine cities in Michigan
including East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit extend civil rights laws to
"In Lansing, the capital of our state, we have no civil rights protection,"
Rep. Lynne Martinez, DLansing, recently submitted an amendment to include sexual
orientation into the states hate crime legislation.
Three people have been killed this year in Michigan in antigay hate crimes,
Members of the Triangle Foundation also hope to see a change in the states sodomy
and gross indecency laws.
"If (sodomy) is on our law books, I dont think anything else matters,"
said Christine Yared, a member of the Lesbian and Gay Community Network of Western
Sodomy laws classify anal intercourse as criminal.
"(The laws dont) mean it is illegal to be gay, but it is illegal to have sex
with a member of the same sex," said John Huebler, who attended the conference.
Huebler is a former MSU employee who helped win domestic partner benefits for university
Yared, a professor at Grand Valley State University and family law practice attorney,
said Michigans laws also neglect to protect the children of gay and lesbians.
While she and her partner have three children, Yared said many gays and lesbians
seeking to adopt must hide their sexuality to avoid being denied.
"There is no recourse," she said. "There are no discrimination laws to
protect you. You are out of luck."
Yared said in her lifetime there will be numerous advancements in the state for
lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered people.
"I think we will see a lot of changes, but (the state) will not be completely
unbiased," she said. "I still think we can make a lot of progress."
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