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Gov. Whitmer renames downtown Lansing building to honor MI civil rights law

Gretchen Whitmer
Posted at 10:28 AM, Jun 30, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order renaming the state-owned Lewis Cass Building in downtown Lansing.

Executive Order 2020-139 renames the Lewis Cass Building to the "Elliott-Larsen Building."

Whitmer renamed the building to honor "the legislators who sponsored Michigan's landmark civil rights act," according to the governor's office.

The legislation was introduced by Republican State Representative Melvin Larsen and Democratic State Representative Daisy Elliott in 1976 and was signed into law in 1977 by Governor William Milliken, according to the governor's office.

Whitmer's office said this change marks the first time in the state's history that a state building is named after an African-American woman.

“Together, Melvin Larsen and Daisy Elliott’s names have become synonymous in Michigan with the protection of civil rights,” said Governor Whitmer. “In 2020, we must honor the work of our predecessors who, 44 years ago, outlined in law the vision of what we continue to strive for even today. We must hold up those who worked to build a better Michigan for us all, regardless of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity. That’s why I am proud to rename the Cass building in Lansing to the Elliott-Larsen building. There is still more work to do. It’s time for the legislature to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect members of the LGBTQ+ community and make Michigan a state where more people want to move to for opportunity.”

“Daisy Elliott and Mel Larson’s landmark legislation has removed barriers to equity, progress, and participation for Michiganders in every part of our state” said Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist. “As we continue the march toward justice and equity in Michigan, naming this building for these leaders sets in stone their names as a reminder to Michigan public servants to choose inclusive ideals over closed-minded ideologies. We can and must build upon the foundation laid by Elliott and Larsen to make our state a home for opportunity for all.”

“I am humbled and thrilled at this announcement and give all credit to Daisy who initiated working together to sponsor the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act,” said Melvin Larsen. “Having the honor of this building named after the two of us is the ultimate honor of the work she began decades ago to guarantee equality and justice for all of Michigan’s people.”

During her first State of the State Address, Whitmer called on the Legislature to pass legislation that would expand the state's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification in employment, education, housing, real estate in addition to the use of other public accommodations and public service, according to the governor's office.

The governor is still called for an expansion of the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

"Despite local non-discrimination protections and recent protections extended by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, no state or federal anti-discrimination laws exist to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from being denied housing or refused service," the governor's office said in a press release.

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