Out Leadership’s Business Climate Index for the 50 United States is an assessment of states’ performance on LGBTQ+ inclusion. It measures the impact government policies and prevalent attitudes have on the LGBTQ+ people residing in each state, quantifying the economic imperatives for inclusion and the costs of discrimination. It equips business leaders and policymakers with a clear sense of the most impactful steps states can take to make themselves more hospitable to forward-thinking, innovative, inclusive businesses.
out of a possible 100 points
While Michigan lacks specific state-level nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity, the state currently interprets existing gender protections to include both, based on a Civil Rights Commission statement. State employees have statutory discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Transgender people can change gender markers on birth certificates and driver’s licenses, but the processes are onerous: surgery is required to change birth certificate markers.
There is no ban on conversion therapy in Michigan. It’s currently legal for adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT+ adopters on the basis of religious belief. Second partners are recognized in the case of adoption or assisted reproduction, but only if the couple is married.
Michigan’s governor and senators are strong supporters of LGBT+ equality. Michigan does not have a law allowing religious exemptions to civil rights laws.
It’s a felony to knowingly, secretly expose someone to HIV. State Medicaid plans covers trans healthcare in line with the ACA. The state prohibits transgender exclusions in private health insurance. Michigan’s hate crimes law doesn’t enumerate sexual orientation or gender identity.
16% of transgender employees in Michigan report being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 22% report mistreatment such as being forced to use a restroom not matching gender. 25% of LGBT+ Michiganders report food insecurity, compared to 15% of non-LGBT+s. The LGBT+ unemployment rate (10%) is twice the non-LGBT+ rate.
Download this report to learn how and why Out Leadership created the LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index for the 50 U.S. States, with important details about our methodology, including our data standards and practices. NOTE: *HIV criminalization laws are discriminatory and ineffective. These laws fail to account for advances made in treating and controlling HIV, may deter people from getting tested and seeking treatment, and can exacerbate the stigma targeting people living with HIV and LGBTQ+ people.Our Methodology
The legal and cultural situation for LGBTQ+ people varies widely across the country. This map, based on each state's total Business Climate Score, illustrates the states where LGBTQ+ people are empowered to participate more fully and openly in the economy, and the states that are lagging behind.
Our partnerships make our work possible. The first State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index released in 2019 was funded by a grant from the Gill Foundation. The Index is based on data graciously shared by the Movement Advancement Project and the Williams Institute. Ropes & Gray is our pro bono legal partner for the CEO Business Briefs globally, and their research informs this Index. FCB partnered with us to conduct original market research into American attitudes toward LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion, informing the Regional Context section of the State CEO Briefs. America Competes supported the development of the scoring for the Risk Assessments, particularly for the Future Risk score.
Out Leadership and FCB partnered on original market research into the attitudes of American workers on LGBT+ inclusion, which fielded in 2019 and 2020. These briefs as a whole will be updated on an ongoing basis by Out Leadership because we recognize the ever-changing nature of policy on the local, state, and national level.
Only 50.8% of LGBT+ workers in the Midwest are out at work. They are only slightly more comfortable being open with their managers than other regions (14% more likely), but they are the least likely to cover their identity at work (17% less likely than nationwide). This could be due to the Midwest having the lowest rates for observing microaggressions (23% less likely) and hearing or engaging in negative conversations on average. However, workers in this region do not typically go out of their way to do business with inclusive companies (21% less likely than the nation as a whole). This is primarily driven by those who live in more rural areas where respondents were 85% less likely to do business with companies that are inclusive.
Unless otherwise noted, all comparisons for more or less likely are compared to the National results. Regional results are based off of 1,500 respondents (LGBT and Non-LGBT responses have been weighted to be age-representative for each audience in each region). National results are based off of 600 respondents representative of each audience (LGBT vs Non-LGBT).
States in the Midwest region included: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
Legal status of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community
Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued executive order ED 2019-9, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in state employment, public services, and state contracting.
Michigan does have laws that address hate or bias-based crimes, but these laws do not specifically address or include sexual orientation.
In 2018, Michigan modernized its HIV disclosure law. Previously, persons living with HIV could face a felony prosecution for not disclosing their status prior to many sexual acts. The new law narrows the scope of sexual activities subject to prosecution (without disclosure) to “anal and vaginal sex.”
Conversion therapy remains legal in Michigan but four towns have banned the practice locally.
Legal status of the Transgender Community
Michigan allows transgender people to amend their birth certificates. It requires an affidavit from a physician certifying that surgery has been performed. In addition to the medical affidavit, applicants for birth certificate amendment must also submit an application form, a copy of a Photo ID, a copy of the court order for a name change, if applicable, and any applicable fees. Applicants do not appear to require a separate court date for the amendment process.
Michigan residents can also amend their driver’s licenses. To update the gender marker, an applicant is required to submit his or her current ID, a current birth certificate or US Passport or Passport Card bearing the new gender, or a court order of gender designation. To update the name on a driver’s license, an applicant must first legally change his or her name with the Social Security Administration, and must then provide proof of the name change along with the application.
In July 2019, Michigan updated its Medicaid policies to include coverage of medically necessary care for trans people in line with the ACA.
Government statements and actions
Michigan’s comprehensive nondiscrimination law is the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. In May 2018, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) internally reviewed the Act and concluded that it protects LGBT+ people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The state Attorney General at the time, Bill Schuette, then published a formal opinion reversing the MCRC and concluding that the Elliot-Larsen Act does not in fact extend these protections. Fair and Equal Michigan is collecting signatures to bring the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity before voters as a ballot initiative in November.
In her first days in office, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive strengthening prohibitions against LGBT+ discrimination in state employment, contracting and provision of service. Whitmer’s Republican predecessor, Rick Snyder signed a similar directive in 2018 but allowed for religious exemptions.
Attorney General Dana Nessel, the state’s first openly lesbian elected official, set up Michigan’s first hate crimes division upon taking office in 2019. She is also working to expand the state’s Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity, though her predecessor in the role had said that the change can only be made legislatively.
For more context around these scores, and to learn more about the criteria we used to assess how state laws, actions and attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people create business and talent risks, please visit www.outleadership.com/staterisk.
Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community
A recent battle fought over the rights of Michigan LGBT+ couples to adopt children from religious adoption agencies was resolved in favor of LGBT+ inclusion in March 2019. Adoption agencies receiving state funding have been known to refuse to allow LGBT+ couples to adopt. This policy was challenged in Dumont et al. v. Lyon et al. The case was settled, which included the state agreeing to enforce nondiscrimination provisions in adoption and foster care contracts.
When people started picketing drag queen story time at a library in Huntington Woods, hundreds of locals showed up in support of the program.
Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community
A trans man in Jackson, MI, whose house burned down in 2017 was charged last this year with burning down his own house, which killed his pets, to call attention to LGBT+ rights. His case has been compared to that of Jussie Smollett, who also allegedly staged a hate crime against himself in Chicago.
In December 2018, a black trans woman in Detroit, Kelly Stough, was murdered. She had spoken out against another trans murder in the city in Guardian coverage three years prior.
There is ongoing tension between the LGBT+ community and the NAACP in Michigan: last fall, a former NAACP chapter president wrote that he wouldn’t vote for Dana Nessel because of her sexual orientation. The organization then refused calls to kick the man, A.C. Dumas, out of the group. At least one Michigan lawmaker subsequently boycotted the NAACP’s annual dinner.