Gov. Rick Snyder appeared today before the Michigan Civil Rights Commission in what state officials believe is the first such visit by a sitting governor in more than 50 years.
But Snyder had nothing new to say about two hot civil rights issues — same-sex marriage and expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
In fact, Snyder didn’t mention either issue in highlighting a short list of his civil rights priorities for the year. Instead, he talked about improved racial and ethnic relations, expanding immigration, embracing native American culture, expanding opportunities for people with disabilities, and addressing mental health issues and criminal justice reform.
After Snyder’s brief presentation, commission member Agustin Arbulu noted that Snyder had encouraged debate about amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act during his Jan. 20 State of the State address and asked if he had any specific changes he would like to see.
“That was actually on my list,” of priorities, Snyder told Arbulu. “Discrimination isn’t right.” Snyder offered no specific recommended changes, saying he wants to “continue a dialogue and discussion on it and hopefully make positive progress.”
The governor also said he was looking forward to a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on the same-sex marriage issue “so we can get clarity.”
Vicki Levengood, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, said today’s appearance by Snyder appears to be the first time a sitting governor appeared before the commission in more than 50 years.
A search of records suggests the last governor to appear before the commission was Republican Gov. George Romney, who attended when he swore in the original commission members in January of 1964, Levengood said.
For the full article, see Paul Egan, “Snyder makes rare appearance at civil rights panel”, Detroit Free Press, January 26, 2015.