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 discrimination.”