Michigan's Attorney General Bill
Schuette said in an opinion issued Friday that the state's civil
rights law does not extend to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
In May, the Michigan Civil Rights
Commission approved a motion that interprets sex discrimination
protections in Michigan's nondiscrimination law, the Elliott-Larsen
Civil Rights Act of 1976, to include discrimination based on sexual
orientation or gender identity, making it the first commission of its
kind to adopt such an interpretation.
Schuette, who is vying for the
Republican nomination for governor, deemed the interpretation
“invalid,” saying that the commission had overstepped its
Detroit News reported.
“[The interpretation is] invalid
because it conflicts with the original intent of the Legislature as
expressed in the plain language,” Schuette said in his 19-page
Lonnie Scott of Progress Michigan told
Free Press that Schuette's opinion “means LGBTQ
Michiganders still can be fired from their job and denied housing and
“[Schuette] is siding with
discrimination and bigotry,” he added.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, was among the 38 LGBT
organizations that backed passage of the commission's motion in May.
“Bill Schuette is unfit to serve as
Attorney General, and this latest outrageous act proves once again
that he cannot represent all Michiganders equally and fairly,” said
HRC Michigan State Director Amritha Venkataraman. “AG Schuette has
chosen to ignore legal precedent and leave thousands of LGBTQ
Michganders at risk of discrimination. Numerous federal courts have
determined 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 law,
including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Michigan’s
Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act.”
Schuette faces three candidates in the
August 7 Republican primary for governor.