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Mich. Civil Rights Commission move sets stage for challenges

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Antioch University

The state Department of Civil Rights has started accepting complaints from people who say they face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s after a state commission voted this week to change its interpretation of Michigan’s civil rights law.

David Kallman is an attorney who says he will defend people accused of LGBT discrimination. He says the commission has no right to suddenly change the rules.

“Get the law changed if you want it changed. Put it on the ballot if you want it changed," Kallman said. "There are avenues to do this the right way, not by someone acting like we’re our own little kingdom here and we can by fiat just change the law.”

An attorney for the department says a legal challenge would be welcome as a way to settle the question. He says the commission is confident its position will be upheld because of recent federal court decisions.

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, says a formal opinion from the attorney general is in order.

“I think they’re outside their rails on what they’re authorized to do," Shirkey said. "I’m not sure how they’re getting their legal advice from.”

 

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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