Michigan attorney Dana Nessel said she plans to appeal the decision.
Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel is about to appeal a judge’s finding that the state’s civil rights laws do not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“We intend to submit that all Michigan residents – regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation – are eligible for legal protection if we appeal this decision,” Nessel said in a statement.
According to The Hill, the controversial ruling was passed by Judge Christopher Murray on Monday. In his opinion, Murray claimed that Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ECLRA) prohibits discrimination based on sex – but not based on sexual orientation.
ELRA, The Hill adds, expressly forbids discrimination on “religion, race, color, national origin, age, gender, height, weight, marital status or marital status”.
Interestingly, Murray’s interpretation of the law means that Michigan companies must serve transgender customers even if they can discriminate against gays, bisexuals, or lesbians.
Murray’s decision comes after two highly competitive cases between Michigan and two state agencies: Rouch World, a wedding venue, and Uprooted Electrolysis, a hair removal company. While Rouch World refused to accept a same-sex couple, Uprooted refused to serve a transgender woman.
In both cases, company owners said that serving members of the LGBTQ community was against their religious beliefs.
An LGBT flag. Image via PxHere. Public domain.
In his decision, Murray said Rouch World did not break Michigan state law. However, he was unable to find a local precedent for Uprooted’s case and was shelved on federal judgments prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
“As is often the case, the courts turn to scrutiny of federal decisions that apply analogous provisions of Title VII when a Michigan flagship decision on the meaning of a provision within the ELCRA does not exist,” Murray wrote. “
Title VII, according to MLive.com, is the section of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1976 that examines and defines certain forms of gender discrimination. Federal courts have since agreed that this law prohibits discrimination based on a person’s gender identity.
Murray interpreted Title VII as meaning “an employer hurts [the act] when it treats an employee who was born a man but now identifies as a woman other than a woman. “
Despite a controversial decision about whether Michigan’s ELCRA protects gay and lesbian people, Murray did not comment on whether he believes companies should claim religious freedom as a defense for discriminating against potential customers.
However, Nessel was quick to express her rejection of the Rouch ruling.
“I disagree with the Michigan Court of Claims regarding its ruling on this sexual orientation case,” Nessel said in a statement. “The courts in Michigan have found the federal precedent in setting the outline of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act very compelling, and federal courts across the country – including the US Supreme Court in Bostock v Clayton County – have it Discrimination based on this decision found sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination. “
Michigan AG has appealed the court ruling that companies can refuse service to gay customers
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