Ex-Mich. House Speaker Chatfield’s opposition to LGBTQ protections cost him a six-figure job


Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering. - MICHIGAN HOUSE
  • Michigan House
  • Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering.

His bigotry finally caught up with him.

Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, who was an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ protections when he was in the Legislature, resigned Monday from his new six-figure job amid heavy criticism.

Chatfield, a Republican from Levering, was hired earlier this month as CEO of Southwest Michigan First, an economic development group. The announcement was met with strong backlash from community and business leaders.

In a letter of resignation posted on Twitter, Chatfield apologized for causing an “unfortunate controversy” but stood by his “Christian” beliefs.

"As a Christian, I believe the Bible. I don’t want to hide from that," Chatfield wrote. "Nor do I want to run from that. I don’t say that as a shield, and I certainly don’t say that to use as a weapon. I say it only because I want to be open and honest. And I don’t want to feel I have to be quiet about that within this community so I could collect a paycheck."

He added, "I can’t truthfully apologize for various conservative beliefs I espoused while in office, and I don’t think you wanted that. But many of my political opinions were causing an uproar. That much was obvious.”

While serving in the state House from 2015 to 2020, Chatfield opposed amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination based on gender identify and sexual orientation.

Soon after Southwest Michigan First announced it had hired Chatfield on Feb. 11, advocates of the civil rights act called for his resignation. The city of Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo Promise also cut ties and funding to the group.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.