MCRC Approves Request to Attorney General (AG) Nessel to Reconsider AG Opinion 7305

Contact: Todd Heywood - heywoodt@michigan.gov
Agency: Civil Rights

February 1, 2019

Detroit, MI – In a 6-0 vote, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) approved a resolution directing the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) to send a letter to Attorney General Dana Nessel asking her to reconsider a formal opinion by her predecessor. Commissioners Regina Gasco Bentley and Rasha Demashkeih were excused from the meeting. 

In May 2018, the Commission approved an interpretive statement directing MDCR to begin accepting and investigating claims of discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The interpretive statement identified discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression as discrimination based on sex under Michigan’s Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act. 

Former Attorney General Bill Schuette issued formal AG Opinion 7305 in July 2018. Schuette’s opinion stated that the Commission had overstepped its statutory authority. The Commission disagreed, noting in July that it was a Constitutionally independent body authorized to enforce civil rights laws. 

The request to reconsider the opinion is important, said MDCR Director Dr. Agustin V. Arbulu. 

“With a new Attorney General, it is important to know where she stands on the authority of the Commission as it was described by AG Opinion 7305,” said MDCR Director Agustin V. Arbulu. “I am eager to hear from Attorney General Nessel on this matter.”

AG Nessel told the Commission she “welcomed the opportunity” to review the previous opinion. 

“I welcome the opportunity to reevaluate this important issue to ensure all people who live in and visit our state are treated equally and fairly under the law,” AG Nessel said. 

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the operational arm of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, is charged with investigating and resolving discrimination complaints and works to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws. The Department also provides information and services to businesses on diversity initiatives and equal employment law. For more information on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, go to www.michigan.gov/mdcr.


 
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