LGBT, Rick Snyder — October 25, 2013 at 7:22 am

Rick Snyder takes 114 words to say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about equal employment rights for gay & lesbian citizens


Let’s dance

[Caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is clearly practicing for his court appearance in Detroit on Monday where he’ll testify in the court hearing to determine if the city is eligible to go into bankruptcy. Yesterday, Snyder was asked about his opinion about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Michiganders being fired for their sexual orientation. Thanks to Michigan law — the Elliott-Larsen Act — this is perfectly legal. What unfolded was a masterful bit of verbal dancing in which the governor’s lips, tongue, and jaws moved, sounds were emitted from his mouth in the form of English words, and sentences were constructed from the words but in which he said absolutely nothing.

Nothing. No opinion on Michigan allowing people in the LGBT community to be fired simply because of their sexual orientation.

It’s a thing to behold:

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.

It’s almost a thing of beauty, his glib ability to spew platitudes that express no opinion whatsoever. It’s sort of hypnotizing, really.

For the record, governor, people being fired for being an LGBT person is not “a hypothetical situation”, it’s a harsh reality for far too many Michiganders.

This isn’t the first time that Snyder has sidestepped the issue, something that his own Department of Civil Rights addressed in a report (pdf) that shows the myriad ways that our economy is harmed by the discrimination inherent in the Elliott Larsen Act:

Businesses with inclusive non-discrimination policies are better able to attract top talent. Analysis of corporate non-discrimination statements from Fortune 500 companies suggests that the main rationale that motivates companies to adopt such policies is that they help recruit and retain a talented workforce and thus gain a competitive advantage. {…}

[D]ata suggest that businesses with inclusive non-discrimination policies are more attractive to a wider pool of applicants and more likely to attract talent from diverse segments of the workforce.

It is, however, the clearest example of how Governor Snyder is having to answer to many benefactors, wealthy funders who wish to have no part of marriage or employment equality for members of the LGBT community.

The contrast between Snyder and Democratic candidate for governor Mark Schauer could not be more stark. Schauer, who has members from the LGBT community on his staff, is in full support of repealing Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban and for overturning the harmful and discriminatory Elliott Larsen Act.

Well done, governor. Most people could not utter than many words and say absolutely nothing.

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  • fake consultant

    Let’s follow the logic tree here:


    1) The Michigan Department of Civil Rights says successful businesses in the State have inclusive policies that encourage LBGT workers to be at these companies.


    2) Governor Snyder is apparently supported by business interests who support employment discrimination.

    …are both true, can we conclude from this data that Governor Snyder’s supporters are more likely to be from less successful businesses?

  • Mark Shafer

    I guess I have a bigot for a Governor.

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  • tmaxpa

    [D]ata suggest that businesses with inclusive non-discrimination policies are more attractive to a wider pool of applicants and more likely to attract talent from diverse segments of the workforce.

    If I’m reading this correctly, there seems to be no evidence that we need the government to interfere in every company’s personnel decisions, since data suggests that businesses are incentivized by desire to attract top talent. Those that make offensive choices in your opinion will be rewarded with decreased competitiveness. You should just protest the companies, make sure their policies are public, not try to get the government to interfere in commerce because you want to second-guess some non-hypothetical but unnamed and unnumbered employers who fired someone because they were gay. You want to force homophobic business owners to stay in business? You’d do more by actually naming and numbering these people who were fired, rather than hounding an uninterested governor.

    I say that as a long time ally and advocate of LGBT rights, and a supporter of civil rights in general. There is such a thing as trying to mandate morality, and I won’t support even a well-intentioned government doing that.

    • Do you not understand that this about a law that allows people to be fired for being gay? We’re not talking about forcing anyone to do anything. We’re just saying you can’t fire a person just because they are gay. It’s as wrong as firing some for their religion or hair color.
      It’s also not strictly an economic issue. It’s a civil rights issue.

      • tmaxpa

        “Do you not understand that this about a law that allows people to be fired for being gay?”

        No it isn’t. It is about a law that would prevent people from firing someone for being gay. There is no law that allows people to be fired for begin gay, there is lack of a law preventing it. Do you understand the difference? It isn’t mere semantics, at least not any more than the difference between “liberty” and “tyranny”.

        You’re saying that you get to tell someone who owns a business who they can and can’t fire once they’ve hired them. That is wrong, regardless of how wrong it may be for them to have some immoral or improper reason for the firing. It is their money, they have the right to spend it or not spend it badly if they want. The data show that they will be committing a self-defeating act which will inhibit their ability to make profits. The free market provides all the justice you need or can expect for homophobic capitalists.

        It is a civil rights issue, you are correct. The civil rights of the business owner. I can get fired for being right, loud, and annoying too much, and you can get fired for being gay. Neither is nice, both are fair. And you can be fired for your religion or hair color, too. YOU ARE NOT OWED EMPLOYMENT.

        • You’re saying that you get to tell someone who owns a business who they can and can’t fire once they’ve hired them. That is wrong…

          You okay firing someone because they are black? Or because they are Jewish? Or because they got divorced? We place restrictions on things like that all the time and very, very few people call that “tyranny”. Most of us call it “justice” or “freedom”. Not freedom to discriminate but freedom from discrimination.

          And you are absolutely wrong in your statement that “you can be fired for your religion”. The Elliott-Larsen Act explicitly forbids that along with “color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status”.

          • tmaxpa

            I am not okay with second-guessing who it is okay to fire at all, that’s the point. Yes, gender, race and ethnicity are illegal as justifications. You think that somehow makes them impossible, even unlikely? Are you saying we’ve already magically solved all racial bigotry and gender bias, so lets get started on LGBT because not making it illegal to dislike them is the same as oppressing them? No, I’m sorry, no. That is a bridge too far, and I say that because I support equality for LGBT, both legal and social. We could place government restrictions on anything and everything we think is wrong, yes, but that isn’t the right way to ensure justice. You don’t have to mess around with scare quotes when you’re honest and sincere about that. Freedom for everyone is freedom for everyone. In extreme cases government can intervene but no fact concerning such a small and invisible minority as homosexuals could qualify, in this one particular regard. You are free to start a company any time you want and refuse to hire anyone who is heterosexual. Or not anti-homosexual enough for you. You know, like the ones the data prove are more successful than the ones that continue ancient discrimination against people with peculiar sexual identities. Your whole argument is that I’m not sufficiently against something if I’m not in favor of legally prohibiting it. It’s a strawman.

            I’ll agree that, given that height and weight as well as marital status are covered by this law, it would make sense to amend Elliot-Larsen to include not just sex but gender identity and choice of sexual partners. Might as well, it’s just Michigan, where you can’t fire someone for being too short or tall, supposedly. The mind boggles at attitudes back in 1976, when employers could still get away with admitting they prefer white married men. Good thing that never happens anymore, because they made it illegal. I look forward to the day when we’ve eradicated bigotry by statute throughout the country as thoroughly as you have in Michigan.