Michigan Governor Candidates on LGBTQ Rights

This election may bring about long-overdue change

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Like many states this November, Michigan voters will choose their next governor. As the chief executive of the state, the governor has many responsibilities and oversees the state legislature. While Michigan has many, many pressing issues needing immediate attention (including Flint’s drinking water, a lackluster educational system, and the 65-year-old oil pipeline underneath the Mackinac Bridge) LGBTQ rights also need attention. Michigan has a rather fraught history of expanding civil rights to LGBTQ Michiganders. This gubernatorial election, however, may bring about long-overdue change.

Because of state legislators’ reluctance, private corporations and smaller municipalities have enacted change to reflect growing citizen diversity. Currently in Michigan, discrimination depends on your ZIP code and your employer.  

That is why this governor’s race is important for LGBTQ Michiganders. So, without further to do, let’s look at the main contenders for the Great Lake State’s governor through the lens of LGBTQ rights:



Brian Calley
Supports mental health reform and organized the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force to combat the opioid epidemic (both of these issues disproportionately affect the LGBTQ community). Despite this, Calley has blocked legislation to expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect LGBTQ Michiganders.


Patrick Colbeck
Michigan state senator and aerospace engineer who has been endorsed by
Ted Cruz and other GOP leaders. One of his guiding principles is to support the “Best Interests for All,” and in this video, he quotes the Michigan state constitution saying, “our laws are meant for the equal benefit of all citizens.” Well, except for LGBTQ citizens….Colbeck blatantly opposes LGBTQ rights, as made crystal clear in this document from his website. He offers school districts a template to resist federal guidance on LGBTQ anti-bullying policies.

To give you a flavor of his views:

“There is a significant body of evidence to suggest that the promotion of the LGBTQ lifestyle leads to a higher risk of contracting AIDS, shorter lifespans, and higher suicide rates”

Jim Hines
Obstetrician of 30 years and former chief of medical staff at Covenant HealthCare who has never held an elected office. Grounded in his Christian beliefs, as made evident in his blog, Hines believes the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision was “incorrect.” Interestingly, while Hines believes that companies can refuse “…services directly if something runs contrary to their scripture or scriptural belief,” he feels a personal responsibility, as an OB-GYN, to care for lesbian and transgender patients. On the transgender bathroom issue, Hines doesn’t take a firm stance. He says, “I believe such issues should be settled by local communities and school boards, with the privacy and security of the students as their main concern.”

Bill Schuette
Current Michigan Attorney General and former congressman, senator, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge, and director for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Schuette has blocked the expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. In case that wasn’t enough, Schuette recently issued a formal opinion affirming legal LGBTQ discrimination statewide in this formal opinion:

It is my opinion that the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s Interpretative Statement, which concludes that the term ‘sex’ as used in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act includes sexual orientation and gender identity, is invalid because it conflicts with the original intent of the Legislature as expressed in the plain language of the Act, and as interpreted by Michigan’s courts.


And if that still wasn’t enough, Donald Trump endorsed him.



Gretchen Whitmer
Former state congresswoman, senator, and House Minority leader. Whitmer believes in expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and has promoted anti-bullying policies that protect LGBTQ students (the very policies Patrick Colbeck opposes). Before same-sex marriage was legalized, Whitmer supported same-sex couple benefits. She also supports comprehensive sex education, adoption rights, and the bathroom choice of transgender individuals.

Abdul El-Sayed
Former director of the Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion. El-Sayed believes in expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and promotes LGBTQ anti-bullying policies in schools. He also supports comprehensive sex education, adoption rights, decriminalization of HIV, and the bathroom choice of transgender individuals.

Shri Thanedar
Businessman and founder of Avomeen Analytical Services. Thanedar believes in expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. He also supports comprehensive sex education, the elimination of gender identifiers on state ID cards, and “additional protections for transgender women.”


Michigan’s primary election is Tuesday, August 7.

Written by Aaron Robert

Michigan communications specialist with a love for writing.

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