Both the Michigan House and Senate have formally recognized June as Pride Month for the first time in state history, according to the key backer of the measure.

Senate Resolution 60 and House Resolution 122, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, and Rep. Tim Sneller, D-Burton, recognizes June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month in Michigan. Both were adopted via voice vote on Thursday.

The resolutions outline the history of Pride Month, acknowledge ongoing struggles the LGBTQ community has faced and recognize the contributions of Michigan’s LGBTQ residents to the state.

“Everyone in Michigan benefits from the multiple talents, viewpoints, and cultural backgrounds of all of its residents and from preserving the freedom, worth, and dignity of those in the LGBTQ community,” the resolutions read. “The people of Michigan understand, appreciate, and value the cultural, civic, and economic contributions of the LGBTQ communities to the greater community of the state, and affirm a celebration of love, living authentically, and accepting ourselves.”

In the Senate, two Republicans — Sens. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, and Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City — joined Senate Democrats as co-sponsors on the resolution.

Resolutions are non-binding and do not have a direct impact on existing laws, but are frequently used by government bodies as a statement of priorities or to declare intentions. Previous efforts by Moss and other lawmakers to adopt Pride Month resolutions were not adopted by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Moss, who is the only openly gay person currently serving in the Michigan Senate, said on the floor the resolution was “symbolic, yet incredibly significant.”

“I can’t even think of another initiative coming from the Legislature that even acknowledged LGBTQ people before,” Moss told MLive. “It’s been years in the making to get it adopted yesterday.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel — who on June 1 released a video with Moss recognizing Pride Month — and other Michigan elected officials celebrated the news, calling the measures significant and praising Moss for his years of work on the issue.

Moss and other Democratic officials have long pushed for expanding Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include additional protections for LGBTQ residents.

The law currently protects people from discrimination based on several factors when it comes to employment, housing and public accommodations: religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status.

There have been several efforts in recent years to add sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to that list of protected classes, both in the Legislature and via ballot initiative, although the proposal historically hasn’t gained traction in the Republican-led Legislature.

In 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Whitmer extended protections to cover people based on sexual orientation and gender identity within the state workforce and for state contractors and services. She also renamed a state office building after the two co-sponsors of the original law, Daisy Elliott and Mel Larsen.

Moss said his work on advancing LGBTQ rights doesn’t stop with a Pride Month resolution and is hopeful continuing to press for significant policy changes will help move the needle.

“The consequences of gay marriage passing is that gay people got married, and nothing more. And the consequences of protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination in the workplace means that LGBTQ Michiganders are able to hold a job, and contribute to the economy,” he said. “All of this progress will continue to propel and really back our argument that this is important, this is positive, this is critical for us to protect vulnerable populations from discrimination.”

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