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Pastor labeled anti-LGBT appointed to civil rights commission

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) -- Three new people could soon join the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the new appointments Friday.

But one of them, a pastor from Jackson, is causing some controversy.

A LGBT advocacy group and several democratic politicians say the pastor is outspoken about his anti-LGBT views, and his appointment to the commission is inappropriate.

Ira Combs, pastor of Greater Bible Way Temple in Jackson, says he's looking forward to joining the civil rights commission.

"It's is an honor and a privilege to be considered by the honorable governor," Combs said.

Combs will fill a republican seat on the commission.

The pastor says he was chosen because of his involvement in the community and previous work with Gov. Snyder.

But he's also known for speaking out against the LGBT community.

"I've taken a faith-based position in regard that the LGBT doesn't agree with, mainly on the issue of marriage," Combs said.

Combs says although he's been outspoken against gay marriage, he can put his personal views aside to serve on the commission.

However, some are still worried about his appointment.

Nathan Triplett of Equality Michigan says Combs has been directly involved in trying to block rights for LGBT people over the past 20 years.

"Gov. Snyder made a critical and dangerous error when he selected Mr. Combs," Triplett said.

This appointment comes at a time when the commission is in the process of deciding if state civil rights laws apply to the LGBT community.

"These folks can't expect a fair hearing or a fair consideration of that question from an individual with a record like Mr. Combs," Triplett said.

Combs says he's aware of these concerns, but is dedicated to acting fairly.

"You have no right to take your beliefs and apply them in places where they interfere in the rights of others," Combs said.

The governor's office sent a statement that said the governor appoints people with a variety of backgrounds to different boards.

However, they didn't give an explanation for why Combs was chosen.

Equality Michigan wants the governor to reconsider appointing Combs.

If that doesn't happen, they plan to call on the state senate to vote against him.

Triplett says Snyder has claimed to support non-discrimination protection for LGBT people, but he hasn't shown that in his behavior.

"There are lots of folks out there from both political parties that meet the requirements of the constitution who can do this job. It's unfortunate that the governor selected an individual who was uniquely unqualified to serve on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission," Triplett said.


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