LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – After a same-sex couple was denied getting married at a Michigan venue, debate over protections for LGBTQ communities has reached the highest court in the state.

The Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act in Michigan protects people based on things like religion, race, age and sex.

But how sex is interpreted has been murky.

Today, the state’s top attorney led the debate for it to include protections for LGBTQ+ people.

“We think it’s time for the hundreds of thousands of people who identify as LGBT, who live in this state finally are entitled to equal protection,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

When two women went to get married at Rouch World in Sturgis, they were denied with those in charge saying it went against their religious beliefs.

Their attorney, David Kallman, said this isn’t about what should or will happen going forward, rather the intention when the law was written.

“The issue is what did the statute mean back in 1976,” Kallman said. “It’s crystal clear what was meant at the time is biological sex, it meant male or female, it did not include sexual orientation.”

Kallman added that also in 1976 the legislature explicitly denied an amendment that would’ve added sexual orientation to the act.

Nessel contends sexual orientation was implied under the umbrella of sex and says the discriminatory aspects of this case are obvious.

“The fact is if you were to swap out Megan for Matt or swap out, you know, Natalie for Nate, they would not have been discriminated against,” Nessel said. “So it’s just clear cut it’s discrimination against sex, sex, and sexual orientation are inextricably linked.”

The AG added the term sex goes beyond just male or female, saying unintentional but positive consequences happen all the time.

“When ELCRA was passed and it was to protect people who were either women or people who were in the minority,” Nessel said. “The predominantly white male legislature, 1976, didn’t say, oh my god, we need a law that will better protect white men.”

“But the fact is Elliot Larson also protects white men. Right? We see reverse discrimination lawsuits all the time, even if that was not something they initially intended, it was encapsulated within the law.”

Kallman also told 6 News this is a public policy issue that should be handled through the people. He says the way to change law is through the legislature or a petition drive — not through the courts.