In 1977, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act became law in Michigan. The original protected categories were religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, and marital status. Subsequent amendments added height, weight, familial status, pregnancy and childbirth (or a related medical condition) to the list.

Republican State Representative Frank Foster (District 107) is currently introducing a bill that would give new legal causes of action on the basis of “sexual orientation,” and “gender identity/expression”.

While we support fair treatment to all people, it is important for the Legislature and policy makers to take a serious look at the interests of all the citizens of this state before making such sweeping changes to Michigan law.

First, there is no proof that in the State of Michigan individuals are being fired from jobs or being denied basic civil rights for these reasons. Additionally, this proposed exercise of governmental power is coercive in its application to businesses and individuals; imposes undue regulatory, administrative, legal and financial costs on the business community; is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad; unconstitutionally infringes upon a citizen’s free speech and free exercise of religious conscience; and violates precepts of good governance.

In addition to opening the door for untold litigation and further divisiveness within the State of Michigan, this bill would establish protections for new categories that are not readily apparent to anyone else. Also, this amendment would create an unsolvable internal conflict within the statute itself. In order to not discriminate against individuals in the proposed new categories, discrimination inevitably occurs against those of many faiths with sincerely held religious tenets in the already protected category of religion.

These extremely vague and overbroad categories, authorize arbitrary government action forcing businesses and citizens of faith of all backgrounds (e.g., Muslim, Jewish, Christian, etc.), to make a terrible choice: act against their constitutionally protected consciences and their sincerely held religious beliefs, or face the full force of the state’s governmental and regulatory power in protracted legal battles, both administratively and in the courts. Similar amendments, as demonstrated by their enforcement in other states, are being used to use the force of law to require submission of those who disagree.

For these and other reasons, Citizens for Traditional Values is opposed to this legislation.