News (USA)

Mich. governor too focused on jobs to articulate an opinion on LGBT rights

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan governor Rick Snyder is so focused on jobs that he remains unable to articulate an opinion on whether he supports or opposes expanding civil rights protections based on sexual orientation.

At a press briefing Thursday, Snyder again sidestepped the issue of LGBT rights, and appeared content with letting the courts sort out the issues as opposed to backing legislation or taking executive actions.

Snyder said he’s willing to discuss the issues — at some point — but for now, he says he’s focused on jobs.

Gov. Rick Snyder (R-Mich.)
Gov. Rick Snyder (R-Mich.)

“It’s something at some point I’m happy to have a discussion on. I’m waiting to see when legislators may also have that as an item of interest,” he said.

During Thursday’s session, reporters pressed the Governor for details or a more complete explanation of his policy stance on LGBTQ issues:

Reporter: Is it acceptable in Michigan that someone can be fired from their job because they are gay or perceived as gay?

Snyder: Well again, in terms of people being fired for no good reason, again, that’s always an issue, that shouldn’t happen.

Reporter: Is being fired because you’re gay or perceived as gay one of those issues?

Snyder: Again, you have issues where you want to see people have an opportunity to have a career.

Reporter: But when you say “no good reason,” is being gay a good reason to be fired?

Snyder: Well again, that’s a broad statement, so it’d depend on the particular facts of the situation. That’s a hypothetical, that’s very general in that context.

Reporter: People are being fired because they’re gay though, that’s not hypothetical. An employer can do that. That’s not a hypothetical situation, that’s a real situation…

Snyder: The question is how should government be involved in that process and how active, so again that’s where I’m happy to work with the legislature as they’re willing to look at those kind of issues.

Reporter: But you’re not going to lead on that issue.

Snyder: At this point in time I’ve got a number of other things that I’ve had as priorities.

“While marriage equality is currently before the courts, extending workplace discrimination protections to gay and transgender citizens is a responsibility that falls to the leadership in the legislative and the executive branches of Michigan’s government,” said Emily Dievendorf, Executive Director of Equality Michigan, in a statement to LGBTQ Nation.

“The Governor’s own Civil Rights Commission has established that anti-LGBT discrimination is happening in Michigan and is harming both Michigan families and Michigan’s economic growth,” she said.

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And while more than two dozen Michigan municipalities have enacted their own ordinances barring discrimination against LGBT citizens — including Battle Creek, Kalamazoo Township, Linden, and most recently, Delta Township — the measures have faced opposition from anti-gay groups including Midland-based American Family Association of Michigan, which argued that the policies discriminate against people who don’t support homosexuality.

Bills introduced in the 2009 and 2012 legislative sessions that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in housing and employment never passed, and no such measures have been introduced in the 2013 session.

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