The Michigan Civil Rights Commission on
Monday approved a motion that interprets discrimination based on
sexual orientation or gender identity as a form of sex
discrimination, making it the first commission of its kind to adopt
such an interpretation.
At issue is whether LGBT people are
protected under Michigan's nondiscrimination law, the Elliott-Larsen
Civil Rights Act.
The motion was introduced by
Commissioner Alma Wheeler and backed by 38 LGBT organizations.
According to the Human Rights Campaign
(HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, the motion passed
with a 5-2 vote.
LGBT groups cheered the news.
“This is a welcome step forward in
the fight for equality that will have a real impact on the lives of
LGBTQ Michiganders, who are not explicitly protected from
discrimination,” HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said in a
statement. “Consistent with federal courts across the country,
today’s decision affirms that discrimination against an individual
based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is fundamentally
a form of sex discrimination – which is prohibited both under
federal laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and
Michigan’s Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act. We commend local
advocates, including Equality Michigan and the ACLU of Michigan, for
their tireless work to ensure that every person is treated equally
under the law.”
“This decision is a welcome and
important step forward for Michigan,” Freedom for All Americans CEO
Masen Davis said in a statement. “Today’s vote makes it just a
little easier for LGBTQ people in the Great Lakes State to live and
work with dignity and respect. But our work isn’t finished – we
must continue working together to update Michigan’s state law so
that all LGBTQ residents are fully and explicitly protected from