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Civil Rights Commission, Department of Civil Rights Respond to Court Decision in Rouch World LLC v Michigan Department of Civil Rights

Lansing, MI—Portia Roberson, Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and John E. Johnson, Jr., Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, have issued the following statements in response to the Michigan Supreme Court decision today in Rouch World LLC et al v Michigan Department of Civil Rights et al.

Statement from Commission Chair Portia Roberson:

"On May 21, 2018, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued an interpretive statement declaring that the word "sex" in Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act encompasses gender identity and sexual orientation. The Commissioner's courageous decision allowed the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to accept complaints of discrimination on the basis of sex from Michigan's LGBTQ community. We knew the ultimate test could come in the courts, and today the values of equity and inclusion won over the voices that would forever keep our LGBTQ neighbors in the shadows of society. We are grateful to the court for their groundbreaking and forward-looking decision."

Statement from John E. Johnson, Jr.:

"The long fight to ensure Michigan's LGBTQ residents are protected from discrimination led to this significant victory in the courts today. The decision in the Rouch World case will finally allow our LGBTQ friends, neighbors and family members to be full participants in Michigan's economy, social structure, recreational opportunities, healthcare – in every aspect of Michigan society – with some assurance that their rights are now recognized. But we cannot rest on this achievement, as important as it is. As we have seen at the federal level, we cannot rely on court precedent alone. We must continue to push for a legislative solution, by specifically codifying protection from discrimination for the LGBTQ community in the state's signature civil rights law, the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Today is a time to celebrate. Tomorrow we will continue the battle to enshrine those protections in ELCRA."

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.

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