LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Some state officials and LGBTQ+ activists are called the Michigan Supreme Court ruling that expanded sexual orientation protections a victory on Thursday. Attorneys on the other side of this case are still skeptical on the basis of the decision.
After months of deliberation, the state’s highest court ruled that civil rights laws also protect people based on their sexual orientation.
“It means no longer having your state government be permitted to view you as a second class citizen. It means better opportunities for jobs, knowing you can live wherever you can afford to. Not having to worry about a diner or coffee shop say “we won’t serve you here” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
The court decision stemmed from a Michigan Department of Civil Rights lawsuit against wedding venue, Rouch World, in Sturgis. The suit claimed the venue discriminated against two woman when staff denied to host their same-sex wedding because it would violate their religious beliefs.
The couple filed the lawsuit, saying they were being discriminated against because of their sex.
After almost five months of deliberation, the Michigan Supreme Court said sexual orientation applies under the civil rights act’s definition of “sex”. Yet Nessel said the state must do more to solidify those protections.
“The principal of ‘Stare Decisis’ doesn’t apply any longer. It means that any time the members of a court change, so could the opinions of that court,” she said.
While supporters celebrated the ruling, attorneys who represented the venue said the interpretation is a stretch of what the legislature originally passed in 1970s.
“A court who is under the constitution is suppose to decide on cases and controversies decided instead to be a super legislator to impose policy on the people of Michigan,” said William Wagner with the Great Lakes Justice Center.
Wagner said the suit now returns to the lower courts but expects the case to return to the Michigan Supreme Court on the question if the government’s action violated the venue’s religious conscious.