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Schuette asked whether commission can add LGBT protections

Bill Schuette

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is asking state Attorney General Bill Schuette for a formal ruling on whether it has the authority to extend housing and employment protections to gay, lesbian, and transgender people. That’s after an attorney from his office torpedoed a proposal the commission was on the cusp of adopting.

The commission had just wrapped up a two-hour public hearing and weeks of work on the request from a gay rights organization. The group asked the commission to determine whether protections against sex discrimination apply to LGBT people.

As the commission was preparing to vote, an assistant attorney general assigned to the board said that would over-step its authority, and it’s a matter for the Legislature to decide.

Rasha Demashkieh co-chairs the commission. She expressed frustration that the attorney general’s office waited until the last minute to weigh in.

“If we didn’t have the right to start with, then why are we doing this?” she said.

Demashkieh said Schuette’s office had initially bowed out of offering a legal opinion. Schuette’s press secretary offered no explanation on the change of plan.

“The Legislature makes laws, not commissions,” said Andrea Bitely.

The commission tabled the question until it gets official work from the attorney general regarding its authority.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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