ACLU of Michigan Praises Steelcase Inc., Kellogg Co., Other Businesses for Opposing RFRA

April 28, 2015

LANSING—The ACLU of Michigan is praising several local business leaders who, in a powerful show of opposition to multiple “religious freedom restoration act” bills being debated in Michigan, have submitted letters to state lawmakers urging them to forego discriminatory RFRA legislation and safeguard LGBT rights.

Steelcase Inc., Kellogg Co., Herman Miller Inc. and the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce are some of the biggest names that have joined with a host of smaller local shops in an extensive correspondence campaign urging the state to dump proposed legislation that would allow faith to be used as a valid excuse to discriminate against others—especially members of the LGBT community— in areas such as adoption services and housing.

“We’re proud to see so many of the leaders from our business community take a leadership role in standing against discrimination,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. “We hope that our political leaders heed these warnings that RFRA legislation is bad for Michigan. Instead, legislators should expand our state human rights law to protect sexual orientation and gender identity."

The state Senate Judiciary Committee is debating today whether to vote to approve Senate bill 4.

Some of the letters urged the state legislators to eschew the bill for fear of inviting backlash and hampering the state’s effort to improve employment prospects.

“Passing RFRA could hinder the ability of all Michigan businesses to recruit and retain a talented workforce,” wrote Lizabeth O’Shaughnessy, the senior vice president and chief administrative officer of of Grand Rapids-based Steelcase, in a letter addressed to state Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Rick Jones.

Along with worries over how such legislation could hurt the state’s business climate, other corporate leaders also argued that the proposed RFRA laws are just plain wrong because they would stoke further unfair treatment of LGBT consumers, employees, clients, etc.

“Legislation that gives business owners license to refuse service to people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression is, quite simply, unacceptable,” wrote John Bryant, Kellogg CEO and president.