Thursday, October 24, 2013


Michigan Governor still avoiding taking a stand on LGBTQ equality rights
Michigan Governor Rick Synder
By Brody Levesque | LANSING -- During a press briefing Thursday, reporters pressed Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder on his policy stance over expanding civil rights protections based on sexual orientation.
Political observers told LGBTQ Nation Thursday that Snyder seems content with letting the courts sort out the issues as opposed to backing legislation or taking executive actions. Snyder says he's willing to discuss the issues- at some point- but, for now he says he's focused on jobs.   
"It's something at some point I'm happy to have a discussion on. I'm waiting to see when legislators may also have that as an item of interest," he told reporters.
Michigan newspaper columnist and political analyst Tim Skubick wrote earlier this week,  "You have to wonder what Gov. Rick Snyder really thinks, deep-down inside, about expanding the state civil rights act to include members of the LGBT community."
During Thursday's session, reporters pressed the Governor for details or a more complete explanation of his policy stance on LGBTQ issues:
Reporter: Is it acceptable in Michigan that someone can be fired from their job because they are gay or perceived as gay?
Snyder: Well again, in terms of people being fired for no good reason, again, that's always an issue, that shouldn't happen.
Reporter: Is being fired because you're gay or perceived as gay one of those issues?
Snyder: Again, you have issues where you want to see people have an opportunity to have a career.
Reporter: But when you say "no good reason," is being gay a good reason to be fired?
Snyder: Well again, that's a broad statement, so it'd depend on the particular facts of the situation. That's a hypothetical, that's very general in that context.
Reporter: People are being fired because they're gay though, that's not hypothetical. An employer can do that. That's not a hypothetical situation, that's a real situation...
Snyder: The question is how should government be involved in that process and how active, so again that's where I'm happy to work with the legislature as they're willing to look at those kind of issues.
Reporter: But you're not going to lead on that issue.
Snyder: At this point in time I've got a number of other things that I've had as priorities.
Emily Dievendorf, Equality Michigan's Managing Executive Director told LGBTQ Nation in an email Thursday afternoon:
"While marriage equality is currently before the courts, extending workplace discrimination protections to gay and transgender citizens is a responsibility that falls to the leadership in the legislative and the executive branches of Michigan's government. 
The Governor's own Civil Rights Commission has established that anti-lgbt discrimination is happening in Michigan and is harming both Michigan families and Michigan's economic growth."
Michigan media outlet MLive pointed out that several Michigan municipalities have passed various anti-discrimination ordinances that include gay and transgender people, adding that earlier this week, Delta Township became the 29th local government to do so.
However, the measures have faced opposition from anti-gay groups including Midland-based American Family Association of Michigan, which argued that the policies discriminate against people who don't support homosexuality.
Dievendorf said that her organisation believes that no qualified and hard-working employees should be fired simply because they are gay.  She added that efforts in the state legislature to amend the state's Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act to include LGBT citizens, after 30 years of lobbying are applauded by Equality Michigan and equality activists saying;
"Thanks to legislators on both sides of the aisle progress will be made sooner than later because it is the right thing for Michigan LGBT citizens, the right thing for Michigan businesses, and the right thing for Michigan history. We think Governor Snyder will want to be a part of that."
A Michigan youth activist, Graeme Taylor was even more blunt in his assessment referring to the governor's stance on LGBT policy issues telling LGBTQ Nation; "Snyder is not the guy we need in office for gay rights for sure."
A spokesperson for Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger noted that the speaker and other lawmakers were still having conversations with people on all sides of this issue.
"No one has yet come up with a good answer on how to balance personal liberty with religious freedom," Ari Adler said in an email to MLive Thursday. 
"The positive news is that he has had many conversations with people who agree we need to find a solution together and neither side should demonize the other."
Legislation introduced in the 2009 and later, the 2012 legislative sessions to prohibit employers, landlords and others in Michigan from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity never passed, and there are not similar bills that have been introduced in the 2013 session.