GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the word “sex” in Michigan’s key civil rights law applies to sexual orientation and not just gender.
Rickie Kreuzer grew up in Jenison, a town he says is known for being conservative.
“I was one of the first people in my graduating class, so 350 students, to come out and it was definitely a tough journey,” Rickie Kreuzer, Chosen Family of Michigan executive director and board president, told FOX 17 Thursday.
Kreuzer said he had to overcome many different obstacles as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but now that he works with Chosen Family of Michigan, he hopes to help others do the same.
“I certainly do know of other people who I advocate for every day that not only faced the bigotry and hatefulness that I face but have faced, you know, being fired from their jobs or being, you know, hindered from other things in life, such as housing,” Kreuzer explained.
Thursday’s Michigan Supreme Court ruling aims to put an end to that.
In a 5-to-2 decision, the high court said the state’s anti-discrimination law does cover sexual orientation, which Kreuzer says is a victory for the LGBTQ+ community.
“I’m certainly very excited about this ruling. Our Attorney General Dana Nessel put a lot of work into this initiative, as well as the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, and it’s a very important ruling,” he added.
This decision comes after Rouch World, an event center in Sturgis, refused to host a same-sex wedding in 2019 because it conflicted with the owner’s beliefs.
A similar incident happened at The Broadway Avenue in Grand Rapids.
It sparked protests in July and led the city to open an investigation into whether the owner’s decision violated Grand Rapids’ Human Rights ordinance.
“It’s exciting that the law is treating us, you know, as equal and hopefully that will help with some of these other things as well,” Kreuzer said.
However, he argues that even more needs to be done at the state and federal levels.
“The Respect for Marriage Act just passed the House of Representatives. We’re hoping we can get a vote on that in the Senate, at the US level and then [it would] also be great if the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act here in Michigan, as well as the Equality Act at the federal level to expand the US Civil Rights legislation, would explicitly state that LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination when it comes to housing, banking, employment and everything else that would be included under that,” Kreuzer added. “It goes to show that we are not less than and we deserve the same rights as everybody else.”
FOX 17 reached out to the city of Grand Rapids about its investigation into The Broadway Avenue venue but did not hear back.
The venue’s owners declined to comment and directed us to their attorney, as did the owners of Rouch World.
FOX 17 reached out and has not heard back from either.