Bill Schuette, the Republican Attorney General of Michigan, gave a controversial opinion on LGBTQ rights on Friday. Schuette, who is running to become the state’s next governor, stated that state law does not protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.
ThinkProgress notes that Schuette’s opinion contradicts the statement given by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission back in May. The commission declared that discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is a form of sex discrimination outlawed under the 1976 civil rights law.
The Attorney General’s opinion was sought by the state’s Republican leadership. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and House Speaker Tom Leonard requested Schuette’s opinion because they felt that the Civil Rights Commission had gone too far. The Republicans also believe that the statement, “threatens to undermine our system of government.”
Attorney General Schuette agrees with the Republican lawmakers. He stated that the commission’s interpretation is “invalid.” Schuette backs up his interpretation by pointing out how the word “sex” was defined in the dictionary back in 1976.
Schuette is punting the ball to the legislature saying that only they can reinterpret the law. However, he does admit that several federal appeals courts have ruled in favor of “sex” protections for LGBTQ people under federal law.
The Attorney General’s statements come on the heels of a tough race for Governor. Trump flipped the state from blue to red in 2016 but only by 0.2 percent of the vote. Keeping the state red with these type of statements could be an uphill battle for the GOP.
Gay marriage and basic human rights are hot topics in Michigan. In 2015 the SCOTUS overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, stating that it was unconstitutional. However, that ruling has not resolved the fight against discrimination.
There is no doubt that the opinion expressed by Schuette will be brought into the campaign by Democrats. Now we sit back and wait and see if the Attorney General’s words will come back to bite him.