LGBTQ+ Business Climate Score

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

Legal & Nondiscrimination Protection

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.

18 / 20
Youth & Family Support

There is no ban on conversion therapy in Michigan. It’s currently legal for adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ+ 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.

14.83 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

Michigan’s governor and senators are strong supporters of LGBT+ equality. Michigan does not have a law allowing religious exemptions to civil rights laws.

19.20 / 20
Health Access & Safety

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.

11 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

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 LGBTQ+ Michiganders report food insecurity, compared to 15% of non-LGBTQ+. The LGBTQ+ unemployment rate (10%) is twice the non-LGBTQ+ rate.

12 / 20
A Note on Methodology

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
Talking Points
  • 4% of Michigan residents identify as LGBT+. Conservatively, that's LGBT+ personal income of $19 billion – it’s a market my business can’t afford to ignore.
  • Nondiscrimination policies allow LGBT+ people to participate more fully in the economy.
  • When LGBT+ employees don't feel welcome at work, they're less likely to stay, and employee turnover is a drag on the state economy and business competitiveness. It costs companies an average of $9,660 to replace an employee in Michigan, and it can cost up to $440,185 to replace senior executives. Michigan and the businesses operating there have strong incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • Millennial and Gen Z consumers prefer to do business with companies with LGBT+ friendly advertising and policies – 54% say they’re more likely to choose an LGBT+ inclusive brand over a competitor – which is why it’s important that Michigan continue to foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
Impact of LGBTQ+ Discrimination on Business and Talent
  • 1
    No Risk
  • 2
    Low Risk
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
  • 4
    Notable Risk
  • 5
    High Risk

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.

  • 1
    No Risk
Companies incur no risk to their brands by operating in Michigan, where the governor and both senators are vocal supporters of LGBTQ+ rights and the state interprets existing nondiscrimination protections to include both sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • 2
    Low Risk
There is low risk of LGBT+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from Michigan, which has openly supportive elected officials actively working to increase LGBTQ+ protections.
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
LGBTQ+ talent could consider Michigan’s legal and social environment to be unfriendly. The state’s inclusion of LGBTQ+ identities in nondiscrimination legislation is based on interpretation of existing law, no sexual orientation gender identity hate crimes protections exist, and there are no statewide restrictions on the practice of conversion therapy, making relocation to or retention in Michigan potentially unattractive to LGBTQ+ talent.
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
There is moderate risk involved in marketing to the LGBTQ+ community in Michigan, where the conversation around LGBTQ+ equality is, slowly, moving in the right direction.
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
The state has several discriminatory laws on the books, but appetite to pursue discriminatory legislation seems to have waned in recent years. The risk of a future negative event is moderate.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community

A recent battle fought over the rights of Michigan LGBTQ+ couples to adopt children from religious adoption agencies was resolved in favor of LGBTQ+ inclusion in March 2019. Adoption agencies receiving state funding have been known to refuse to allow LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ rights. His case has been compared to that of Jussie Smollett, who also allegedly staged a hate crime against himself in Chicago.