UPDATE: Michigan officials hail Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ protection, but say “we still have a long way to go”


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaking during a news briefing Friday, June 5, 2020.

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that federally protects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers.

The Supreme Court’s decision today in Bostick v Clayton County, Georgia is a major victory for civil rights. In the Supreme Court’s own words, the message of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is ‘simple and momentous.’ Under Title VII, a statutory violation occurs if an employer intentionally relies in part on an individual employee’s sex when deciding to discharge the employee. In other words, under federal law, an employer cannot fire someone simply for being gay or transgender.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

In July 2019, Attorney General Nessel joined a coalition to file a brief in multiple Supreme Court cases which were being considered together by the court. In their brief, the coalition of 22 attorneys general argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination against transgender people or on the basis of sexual orientation.

ORIGINAL STORY: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and groups that support equal protection for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning communities say they are happy about today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that gives them civil rights protections, but they say much more work needs to be done.

The court decided by a 6-3 vote that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 known as Title VII that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, encompasses bias against LGBT workers.

“Today, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court confirmed what we already know – that nobody deserves to lose their job because of who they are or how they identify,” she said in a statement. “This is good news for the countless LGBTQ+ Michiganders who have been fighting for equality for decades.

Whitmer also paid tribute to Aimee Stevens, a Michigan woman who was at the center of one of the cases decided by the court.

Aimee Stephens lost her job as a funeral director in the Detroit area after she revealed to her boss that she had struggled with gender most of her life and had, at long last, “decided to become the person that my mind already is.” Stephens told funeral home owner Thomas Rost that following a vacation, she would report to work wearing a conservative skirt suit or dress that Rost required for women who worked at his three funeral homes. Rost fired Stephens.

She died last month. Whitmer called her “a brave Michigander who fought for transgender rights until the day she died.”

“In honor of Aimee, take today to celebrate this victory, and tomorrow, let’s continue fighting to ensure equality for all Michiganders,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer referred to a petition drive in Michigan to make the same LGBTQ community have protection under the state’s civil rights laws.

The head of Equality Michigan, one of the state’s leading groups that supports the LGBTQ community, made the same points.

“This historic decision says that LGBTQ people are, and should be, protected from discrimination under federal law. But our work is not finished.” said executive director Erin Knott in a statement. “There are still critical gaps in our federal non-discrimination laws and the laws of Michigan for LGBTQ people, despite this ruling. While LGBTQ people now have legal protection from discrimination at work, we still have a long way to go.”

U.S. Senator Gary Peters also supported the ruling.

“This is a historic day for LGBTQ+ rights and equality in this country. Nobody should face discrimination in the workplace or fear losing their job for who they are or who they love. Michigander Aimee Stephens did not live to see this day, but today we honor her and carry on this fight in her memory. While this is a major step forward we have a lot of work to do, including passing the Equality Act.”

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D) Michigan

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