Even when he does something objectively good, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder still manages to be a complete asshole.
On Thursday, Snyder signed an executive directive that will require all private companies that sign contracts with the state government to adhere to the same guidelines set forth for public employees. Specifically, it prohibits discriminatory hiring and firing practices on the grounds of sexual orientation.
To state the obvious, having such a directive embedded in the state codes is a wonderful and productive move for Michigan. That said, the fact that Snyder waited until his final week in office to address discrimination against the LGBTQ community is some political white-washing bullshit of the highest degree.
Snyder has been in office for eight years now and will vacate the governor’s chair early next month. In that time, Snyder has by-and-large completely ignored requests from Michigan citizens to update state legislation to extend the protections to all workers, not just those in or adjacent to the state government. As Michigan attorney general and 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Schuette ruled earlier this summer, the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act still does not include protections for LGBTQ citizens employed by private companies.
In this year’s gubernatorial election, Schuette lost handily to Democrat Gretchen Whitmer. Whitmer’s longtime commitment to LGBTQ issues emerged as a swaying issue among some voters, especially given Schuette’s repeated attempts to use his position as attorney general to argue that LGTBQ citizens shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children or be granted basic legal protections. Whitmer, on the other hand, campaigned on expanding the state’s civil rights legislation to ban anti-LGBTQ housing and job discrimination.
So, instead of doing exactly what Snyder wants and heralding this action as a long-overdue progressive and inclusive step by a conservative politician, I will instead direct you to an interview conducted five years ago by MLive.com, in which Snyder—after being straightforwardly asked five times by reporters whether a boss should be able to fire someone because they’re gay—finally gives an honest answer.
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 wasn’t that Snyder didn’t care, you see. He was just too busy from 2010 all the way up until exactly four days before he leaves office.