Grand Rapids chamber produces Insights on Standing Up for LGBT Equality

Grand Rapids chamber produces Insights on Standing Up for LGBT Equality

OutPro is a networking group for LGBT professionals and program by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Photo via

A former Republican state representative is helping the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce in its effort to establish rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

GRACC, as part of its OutPro program, is hosting a conversation with former Rep. Frank Foster “on the leadership needed to achieve LGBT civil rights in Michigan." Foster, an alumnus of Grand Valley State University, will discuss his experiences on “leading the legislative fight to amend the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBT community.”

The event is scheduled for 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 29, at St. Cecilia Music Center, 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids. The event is free, but registration is required.

“With Michigan ranking among the worst states for LGBT discrimination, Representative Foster’s insights on leading change on this important issue may prove critical in moving the public discussion forward,” said Sonya Hughes, GRACC vice president of inclusion. “Improving inclusivity and diversity is a vital business issue impacting Michigan’s competitiveness and our ability to attract and retain talent.”

Working for LGBT civil rights is not new for GRACC, which last year joined with businesses in the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition and the Detroit Regional Chamber to announce support for updating Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

“It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do,” said GRACC President and CEO Rick Baker at the 2014 Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference.

“We hear from our members in West Michigan on a regular basis that finding highly skilled, creative and talented people to fill jobs is a growing challenge. Updating Elliott-Larsen won’t solve this problem on its own, but it sends a message to workers — both inside and outside of Michigan — that if they are qualified for a job, they will be treated fairly and judged on their merits.”

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