HRC Responds to MI AG’s Opinion That LGBTQ People Are Not Protected Under State’s Civil Rights Law

by Ianthe Metzger

DETROIT -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, responded to Michigan Attorney General — and candidate for Governor — Bill Schuette’s formal opinion asserting that under the state’s Elliott Larson Civil Rights Act LGBTQ residents are not protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The opinion conflicts with a Michigan Civil Rights Commission vote in May affirming the act covers discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“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. HRC is on the ground working hard to elect pro-equality champions who support commonsense protections for LGBTQ Michganders and ensure that Schuette never makes it to the governor’s mansion.”

Earlier this year, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission became the first commission of its kind in the nation to determine that laws prohibiting sex discrimination also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Other legal bodies -- including the 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.

In Michigan, HRC has identified more than 1.1 million “Equality Voters” -- voters who support LGBTQ-inclusive policies including marriage equality, equitable family law, and laws that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. HRC has prioritized investments and organizing in Michigan in the 2018 cycle, and has already put staff and resources on the ground in the state. Last year, HRC announced a coast-to-coast campaign called HRC Rising, which represents the largest grassroots expansion in the organization’s 38-year history.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.


Paid for with regulated funds by Human Rights Campaign PAC, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20036 ( Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. 

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