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Michigan Supreme Court bypasses Court of Appeal to hear LGBTQ case

LANSING, MI – The Michigan Supreme Court bypassed the appeals court by granting a request from the Department of Civil Rights to hear its appeal from a lower court ruling that the classification of sex in human rights law Elliott-Larsen’s civil rights does not encompass sexual orientation.

An order dated Friday, July 2 and published Saturday in Rouch World LLC v Department of Civil Rights was the first time the court’s new Democratic majority has lined up decisively, with a 4-3 majority on whether to bypass the tribunal. appeal and hear the appeal from the claims court directly, according to Gongwer News Service.

Rouch World is a 300-acre park and wedding venue in Sturgis, according to the company’s website. Its owners refused to hold a same-sex marriage ceremony because of their religious beliefs. They filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, arguing that the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act does not protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. kind.

The recent Supreme Court ruling establishes a potentially historic ruling that could materialize the effort long sought by LGBTQ people and their supporters to extend legal civil rights protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. A December Claims Court ruling ruled that the law applies to gender identity, thus extending protections to transgender people, but Judge Christopher Murray ruled that the word ‘sex’ did not cover discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court has requested that briefs be filed by Oct. 25 without an extension, unless just cause can be shown. The court also said pleadings would take place with 20 minutes for each side.

The order also invited the following groups to file amicus briefs: The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union, Affirmations LGBTQ + Community Center, Equality Michigan, Freedom for All Americans, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT Detroit, National Center for Lesbian Rights, OutCenter of Southwest Michigan, OutFront Kalamazoo, Ruth Ellis Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, Stand With Trans and Trans Sistas of Color Project. He said other groups or individuals may apply for permission to file amicus briefs.

In the majority were Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, Judge Richard Bernstein, Judge Megan Cavanagh and Judge Elizabeth Welch.

Justice Elizabeth Clement dissented, citing the court’s rationale last year for denying circumvention in the lawsuit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s use of the governor’s emergency powers to keep Michigan under state emergency.

“It was in the face of the fact that the case raised compelling questions that involved the civil liberties of all Michiganders – just like this one. We should deny this bypass request just as we refused this one, ”Clement wrote.

Clement said that, as was the case in the Pandemic Powers case, the department cannot demonstrate any substantial harm it would suffer as a result of the regular appeal process.

Read more:

Marriage venue that refused to host same-sex marriage ceremony sues Michigan Department of Civil Rights

Lawmakers, Whitmer renew efforts to extend civil rights protection to LGBTQ Michigan residents

New ballot initiative would protect LGBT Michiganders from housing and employment discrimination

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