Michigan AG to appeal court ruling that companies can refuse service to gay customers
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel plans to appeal a Monday court ruling that found Michigan’s civil rights laws do not protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
“We intend to submit that all Michigan residents are entitled to protection under the law – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation – in our appeal to this decision,” said Nessel.
Judge Christopher Murray ruled on Monday that Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), which bans discrimination on the basis of sex, did not ban discrimination against sexual orientation. According to the ELCRA, discrimination on the basis of “religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status” is illegal.
The decision came after two Michigan companies argued that laws in the state did not prevent them from refusing service to customers who are a part of the LGBT community.
Nessel stated that she planned to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals and possibly even to the Michigan Supreme Court if the Court of Appeals rules similarly. Nessel is the first openly LGBT person to be elected to a statewide office in Michigan.
The Detroit News notes that a contradictory interpretation of the law was made by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission in 2018 when it interpreted the law to apply to sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
The two cases involved Rouch World, a wedding venue, and Uprooted Electrolysis, a hair removal business. Rouch World declined to host a same-sex wedding in 2019 and Uprooted Electrolysis refused service to a transgender woman, both claiming it went against their religious beliefs.
MLive.com reports that the Court of Claims found that Rouch World did not violate the ELCRA, while there was no state precedent for the latter case leading Murray to refer to federal precedent when making his decision.
“I respectfully disagree with the Michigan Court of Claims on its ruling in this case as it relates to sexual orientation,” said Nessel.
“Michigan courts have held that federal precedent is highly persuasive when determining the contours of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and federal courts across the country – including the U.S. Supreme Court in Bostock v Clayton Co – have held that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination,” Nessel added.
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