LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – With five yeas, one nay, and a pass, a senate committee voted in favor of a bill that expands protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

The bill would amend the act to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories.

This decision made by the Michigan Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety Committee represents a victory for members of the LGBTQ+ community and for those who stand alongside them.

Thursday’s hearing focused on state business leaders who support the bill.

“We believe that inclusive society is the key to enabling individuals to thrive, businesses to prosper, and economies to grow,” DOW North America President Louis Vega said.

“A state that projects a business environment that is inclusive sends a message to businesses and talented individuals that Michigan is the place to call home,” Michigan Realtors President Sandy Smith said.

There were also leaders who testified against the bill on the basis of religion.

“I think the fear is that those who identify with deeply held religious convictions and the expression of those convictions will then be discriminated against,” Citizens for Traditional Values President Eileen McNeil said.

“We’re talking about just adding that people of conscience also not be discriminated based on who they are,” Great Lakes Justice Center President William Wagner said.

Others, including the bill’s sponsor, said today’s vote has left them feeling optimistic about the future.

“This is about the fundamental values of being American, restoring dignity for our people,” Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson said.

“It feels like we’re running through the tape here but there are 50 years of advocates that we’re taking with us,” bill sponsor and democratic State Senator Jeremy Moss said,

The bill will now go to the full Senate and, if passed, it will make its way to the House, and finally the governor’s desk for her approval.