In a 5-2 vote, the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that all judges in the state must respect the pronouns of the parties that come before their court. The rule will be implemented beginning on January 1. While it prevents judges from disrespecting a person’s pronouns, it does allow them to refer to a party as “attorney” or “plaintiff” along with their last name should they want to avoid pronouns altogether.
“Courts must use the individual’s name, the designated salutation or personal pronouns, or other respectful means that is not inconsistent with the individual’s designated salutation or personal pronouns,” the decision stated.
Michiganders have moved to address rising anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment by exercising their civic rights. And it’s working.
As such, Justice Elizabeth Welch emphasized that the new rule “does not force anyone to violate their beliefs,” the Associated Press reported.
“We serve the entire public and are required to treat those who come before us with civility and respect,” Welch also said. “The gender identity of a member of the public is a part of their individual identity, regardless of whether others agree or approve.”
Justice Brian Zahra, who opposed the rule along with Justice David Viviano, stated that his belief that the judicial branch should not get involved in a “fluid political debate.”
“Such hubris has no place within the operation of a judicial branch of state government,” he said.
Michigan has experienced a series of victories for the LGBTQ+ community over the past couple of years. Last July, the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision that businesses, landlords, and others cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, even though the state’s civil rights legislation doesn’t specifically mention those categories.
This past March, Michigan also became the 22nd state to pass comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill amended the 1976 Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to include LGBTQ+ people among its protected groups.
And this summer, Michigan passed a bill banning conversion therapy for minors, which was signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in July.