Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s new executive directive barring LGBTQ discrimination may be challenged by the head of the State Bar’s Religious Liberty section, according to the Michigan Advance.
The publication obtained an email from Tracy Lee, a West Bloomfield family law and nonprofit attorney, and reported that she “wrote to a group of lawyers encouraging them to ‘identify business owners who receive state funding in Michigan and are willing to do a pre-emptive challenge against Governor Whitmer’s executive directive.'”
Whitmer’s directive, signed on Monday, Jan. 7, outlines that it will help instill policies to “promote public confidence in the fairness and integrity of state government” by ensuring all Michigan residents receive fair treatment in “employment, state contracting and when accessing services from state government.” It does not include an exemption for religious organizations that receive state money.
Lee’s email follows a unanimous resolution on Wednesday, Jan. 16, from the Alcona County Board of Commissioners opposing Whitmer’s effort to protect the LGBTQ community. The board agreed that by signing the executive order, the governor “circumvented the legislative process” in invoking the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s recently expanded definition of sex discrimination, which previously did not include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Unlike 18 other states, Michigan does not currently have a state law that explicitly prohibits anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations. As of May 2018, the Commission began processing complaints of sex discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Equality Michigan tweeted a response to the possibility that Lee may file a lawsuit.
Our religious liberties have not been infringed upon. The freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights, it’s enshrined in Constitution. This is just another attempt by the anti-LGBT movement to assert their religious beliefs as a way to discriminate against others.
— Equality Michigan (@Equality_MI) January 23, 2019
“The attorney referenced is affiliated with two infamous, anti-LGBT hate groups. As stated in the article, ‘both the Governor and the Michigan Civil Rights Commission acted within their legal authority.’ … Our religious liberties have not been infringed upon. The freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights, it’s enshrined in the Constitution. This is just another attempt by the anti-LGBT movement to assert their religious beliefs as a way to discriminate against others.”