Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Michigan AG and Civil Rights Commission At Odds Over Coverage of LGBTQ Discrimination

In May, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued an Interpretive Statement declaring that the protection against discrimination because of sex in the state's Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act includes protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  On July 20, Michigan's Attorney General Bill Schuette issued Opinion No. 7305 concluding that the Civil Rights Commission's interpretation "is invalid because it conflicts with the original intent of the Legislature as expressed in the plain language of the Act, and as interpreted by Michigan’s courts." The Opinion elaborates:
The word “sex” was understood in 1976, when ELCRA was enacted, to refer to the biological differences between males and females, not to refer to the concepts of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Yesterday the Civil Rights Commission issued a press release taking issue with the Attorney General and reaffirming its earlier Interpretive Statement, saying in part:
The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is an independent, constitutionally created and established body.... The Commission is not bound by the opinion of the Attorney General.