Michigan Muslim Group Warns State That LGBTQ Bill Might Be Unconstitutional
The Muslim activist organization the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has objected to the Michigan Senate’s passage of an expanded version of state human-rights law protecting LGBTQ groups, on the grounds that it might be unconstitutional and could undermine religious freedoms.
Proposed changes to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) seeking to enshrine LGBTQ anti-discrimination rights have led CAIR to object that the amendment could endanger the rights of faith-based organizations that believe, for example, in the gender binary and biological differences between men and women, as well as in the definition of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.
According to CAIR, under the new legislation, religious institutions could face lawsuits for not accommodating individuals “whose gender identity does not conform with their biological sex assigned at birth,” a petition from the group states.
“CAIR Michigan believes along with some other religious groups that have done the policy and the legal research that there are provisions of this bill that could be struck down as unconstitutional including that provision that requires that [LGBTQ] covenant,” a CAIR staffer from Michigan told Fox News Digital.
While religious groups are considered a protected class under the current legislation, many Republicans and religious groups believe the amendment could undermine this. CAIR is working with the Michigan Catholic Conference and Protestant groups challenging the amendment.
“All of the other states that have passed the legislation have done so with religious protections. Michigan wants to be different. They want to be an outlier. And we don’t understand why of the other 22 states [that] have passed it, why Michigan can’t include the language,” the CAIR staffer added.
On Wednesday, Michigan’s upper chamber passed an expanded version of the ELCRA that would protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
“This has been a long journey of real people here who have suffered and people who have died waiting for this moment to come,” state senator Jeremy Moss, the bill’s sponsor, said after the vote. “We are taking this baton and running to the finish line,” Democratic state senator Jeremy Moss, who is gay, said ahead of the vote.
“And when this vote comes on the board, you will tell generations of people yet to come that they have a future, too,” Moss said.
However, ELCRA failed to unify all Michigan Republican state senators, with three opposing the majority of their colleagues and voting for the amendment, which passed the Democratic-controlled senate by a vote of 23-15.
“This is a chance to work together on both sides to protect individual rights and religious conscience all at the same time,” Republican state senator Jim Runestad said.
“This legislation will create impossible-to-resolve conflicts for churches, individuals, employers and employees,” Republican state senator Ed McBroom argued during an impassioned half-hour speech.
The bill is headed to the Michigan House. If it passes there, it will advance to the desk of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.