House Speaker Tom Leonard, D-DeWitt and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, are asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to issue an opinion on whether the Michigan Civil Rights Commission overstepped its bounds in extending civil rights protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Michiganders.
In May, the commission voted unanimously to approve a statement legally interpreting the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act’s ban on “discrimination because of … sex” to include discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity.
In the letter to Schuette, dated May 29, Meekhof and Leonard argue the Civil Rights Commission does not have the authority to make such a decision. What’s more, the letter argues, it’s wrong.
The law’s “plain language, as interpreted by our courts, as well as its administrative and legislative history, make clear that its current protections do not cover sexual orientation and gender identity,” the letter states.
It notes that courts ruled a previous interpretive statement of the commission’s unenforceable.
Ultimately, the letter argues, only the legislature has the power to legislative. The commission doing so violates the Administrative Procedures Act and “threatens to undermine our system of government,” the letter argues.
Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesperson for Leonard, said the Attorney General had not yet responded to the leaders’ request.
The Attorney General is empowered to issue legal opinions on matters brought to him by lawmakers, the governor and other entities.