LGBT+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s Business Climate Index for the 50 United States is an assessment of states’ performance on LGBT+ inclusion. It measures the impact government policies and prevalent attitudes have on the LGBT+ 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.

14 / 20
Youth & Family Support

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.

13 / 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.

19.2 / 20
Health Access & Safety

It’s a felony to knowingly, secretly expose someone to HIV. There has been no policy on transgender healthcare coverage under the state’s Medicaid plan since 2016, a slight improvement on the prior status quo of refusing to cover it. The state prohibits transgender exclusions in private health insurance. Michigan’s hate crimes law doesn’t enumerate sexual orientation or gender identity.

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

12 / 20
A Note on Methodology

Download this report to learn how and why Out Leadership created the LGBT+ Business Climate Index for the 50 U.S. States, with important details about our methodology, including our data standards and practices.

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 LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ people create business and talent risks, please visit

  • 1
    No Risk
Companies incur no risk to their brands by operating in Michigan, where the governor and both senators are vocal supporters of LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ protections.
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
LGBT+ talent could consider Michigan’s legal and social environment to be unfriendly. The state’s inclusion of LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ talent.
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
There is moderate risk involved in marketing to the LGBT+ community in Michigan, where the conversation around LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • – A battle is currently being fought over the rights of Michigan LGBT+ couples to adopt children from religious adoption agencies. Currently, adoption agencies receiving state funding have been known to refuse to allow LGBT+ couples to adopt. This policy is being challenged in an active court case, Dumont et al. v. Lyon et al.
  • – 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 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.