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Civil Rights Commission to consider controversial change to anti-discrimination law

Sep 17, 2017

A large crowd is expected Monday when the Michigan Civil Rights Commission is asked to revise how the word “sex” is interpreted under the state’s anti-discrimination law.

The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act reads:

AN ACT to define civil rights; to prohibit discriminatory practices, policies, and customs in the exercise of those rights based upon religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.

After spending years trying to convince state lawmakers to amend the act to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to include protections for the LGBTQ community, Equality Michigan spokesman Nathan Triplett says the group would like the commission to expand the definition of the word “sex."   

“Agencies like the commission are asked all the time to interpret ambiguous statutes,” said Triplett.

Triplett says the commission has the power to interpret the statute.  Others disagree.

Opponents argue it’s not the commission’s place to exercise “law-making authority.”

With a much larger than normal audience expected, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission has moved its meeting from its confined offices in downtown Lansing to the Lansing Center. 

Speakers will be limited two minutes each. Even with that limitation, the meeting is expected to take several hours.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission hearing is set to start at 4 p.m.