State Rep. Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor) said he is seeking Republican support for a bill aimed at curbing discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

“We’re trying to get strategic co-sponsors,” Kolb said, referring to Republicans who he said would hopefully generate bipartisan support for the measure. Kolb said he has found Democratic co-sponsors and plans to introduce the bill by the month’s end with or without Republican co-sponsors.

Kolb confirmed Monday that state Reps. John Stewart (R-Plymouth), Lorence Wenke (R-Richland) and Leon Drolet (R-Clinton Township) are three of five Republicans he is considering as possible co-sponsors for the bill. He would not disclose the names of the other two representatives.

Wenke said he had not been approached by Kolb and was unsure about whether he would support the bill.

“I’m undecided until I see the bill,” Wenke said. “It’s an area I’m very supportive of, but I want to see the language of Chris’s bill, and if I agree with it, I’d be supportive of it.”

Stewart’s office released a statement that said he was “unaware” of the pending legislation. Drolet could not be reached for comment.

The Triangle Foundation — an LGBT advocacy group — has been campaigning to muster support for the bill, said Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for Triangle.

The bill seeks to amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity. Elliot-Larsen specifically prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, public services, education and housing.

Kolb said he will also introduce legislation to make violent crimes initiated because of the victim’s sexuality or gender identity a hate crime in Michigan — which carries harsher penalties than normally given for violent crimes.

Triangle has actively campaigned in the districts of Republicans who may support the bill but have not committed to becoming co-sponsors for it, Kosofsky said.

Kosofsky said Triangle is hoping to convince these representatives to vote for Kolb’s bill but is not pressuring them to co-sponsor it. He said he was confident the bill could pass if it reached a vote on the House floor, but he was less optimistic that it would survive the Republican-controlled committee.

Wenke said that although he supports the bill, he does not think it will come to a vote.

“I would think any such bill would disappear into the dark recesses of the House of Representatives,” he said. “I think it has a slim chance of being given a hearing.”

Wenke said he believes most Michigan residents think LGBT people should not be discriminated against, but does not expect his party to endorse the bill.

“I think the leadership of the Republican Party in Michigan is not willing to expend any political capital on this issue, even if there is a majority of citizens across the state that think (LGBT people) should have their benefits,” Wenke said.

Despite his pessimism about the bill coming to a vote, Wenke said he is supportive of the bill’s aims.

“I’m against discrimination of people because of their sexual orientation, and I’m willing to at least consider where I would be helpful,” he said.

Kolb said his bill would not protect same-sex domestic partner benefits for LGBT people, which the American Civil Liberties Union is defending in a lawsuit against the state of Michigan.

If the amendment passes, Michigan would become the seventh state in addition to the District of Columbia to pass legislation that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Ten other states have laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and not gender identity. In 2003, Gov. Jennifer Granholm issued an executive order to prohibit discrimination against just public employees on account of their sexual orientation.

Similar amendments to the Elliot-Larsen Act to protect LGBT people from discrimination have been proposed during every session since 1998, but none have passed.

Kolb introduced a similar amendment last year, but the bill died in the House Judiciary Committee.

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