LGBTQ protection in limbo in Michigan

On Friday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced state law does not prohibit LGBTQ bias. (Photo: MGN)

LANSING, Mich. - On Friday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced state law does not prohibit LGBTQ bias.

This comes just two months after civil rights advocates celebrated what they thought was legal protection. Many in the LGBTQ community says they are disappointed.

In 1976, Michigan’s Elliot-Larson act was passed. It prohibited employment and housing discrimination in various categories including sex.

Attorney Jay Kaplan from ACLU of Michigan explains the law.

"It does not specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity," Kaplan says.

In May of this year, the states civil rights commission interpreted the law to include those things.

This gave LGBTQ people legal protection against discrimination.

"We're talking about people getting fired from their job because they're LGBT," Kaplan says.

But on Friday, Schuette issued an opinion.

He says it calls into question the commission's decision. He says by interpreting the law as it was written in 1976, sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected.

Openly gay man Scott Ellis is a board member of Perceptions, an LGBTQ advocacy group in mid-Michigan.

He says Schuette’s announcement does not feel good.

“You want to know that the people in office are looking out for the best interest in everyone and that's not the case here," Ellis says.

The director of the states department of civil rights says he disagrees with the attorney general.

He says they will continue taking complaints until the commission tells them otherwise.

But Ellis and other advocates say, they want this to be law.

“We need to do more and we need to make sure that these rights are firmly cemented," Ellis says.

The commission is meeting on Monday. This is expected to be discussed.

We reached out to the attorney general to get his response but have not heard back.

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