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HRC responded to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission's vote to interpret discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as a form of sex discrimination. The motion was introduced by Commissioner Alma Wheeler following a petition by 38 LGBTQ organizations, and passed by a 5-2 vote.

“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,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “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.”

With today’s vote, Michigan’s Civil Rights Commission has become the first commission of its kind to determine that laws prohibiting sex discrimination also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Other legal bodies -- including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in  Macy v. Holder (2012) and Baldwin v. Foxx (2015) -- have similarly found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Numerous federal courts have also determined that sexual orientation and gender identity are forms of sex discrimination. The Sixth Circuit, which covers Michigan, recently determined for the fourth time that federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination also prohibit gender identity discrimination in EEOC v. Harris Funeral Homes. Neighboring circuits have determined that sex also includes sexual orientation.


Filed under: State & Local Advocacy

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