He said, “Our laws have not caught up with public opinion. You can still be fired for being gay in Michigan … Our sex ed classes can’t teach about same-sex relationships. So, Michigan is far behind public opinion and the right side of history of all these issues.”
One impediment for LGBTQ+ people can be so-called religious freedom laws that allow people to refuse to hire or provide services for them. Hertel said, “Religious freedom … does not mean that you get to enforce religion on somebody else…You certainly have the right to practice whatever you want. You don’t have to be friends with a gay person. But when you open your space up to the public you are a person entity of discrimination is wrong.”
Hertel said, “We had a doctor that wouldn’t treat the toddler child of a lesbian couple because she thought that her religious values superseded their right to get healthcare.”
Michigan Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing) says Michigan is one of several states that are not advancing quickly enough on LGBTQ+ rights.
Pastor John Schleicher, presiding minister at the University Lutheran church, said, “I think there will always be a tension there. Religious freedom to me does feel like intolerance.”
There are religious exemption laws that protect people, churches, and non-profit organizations from participating in anything that would conflict with their religious practice. Michigan is one of four states that permit child welfare agencies to refuse service to same-sex couples if doing so conflicts with their religion.
Below is a video explaining the current position of LGBTQ+ civil rights.