Michigan Takes Step To Punish Salon Owner Who Said She’ll Only Serve Men And Women
Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Michigan officials have charged a salon owner with discrimination after she said she would not serve people who identify as anything other than a man or woman.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights on Nov. 15 charged Christine Geiger and her salon, Studio 8 Hair Lab, with discrimination after investigating complaints that were filed over Ms. Geiger’s comments.
“The truth is, based on a thorough investigation, that Studio 8 and its owner Christine Geiger, openly and repeatedly violated the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act,” John Johnson Jr., the department’s executive director, told reporters in a briefing.
The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics, including religion. Implemented in 1977, it was expanded in 2023 by the state legislature and Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to cover gender identity, enshrining a 2022 Michigan Supreme Court interpretation.
Ms. Geiger posted in July on Facebook: “If a human identifies as anything other than a man/woman please seek services at a local pet groomer. You are not welcome at this salon. Period.”
She also said that salon workers might refer to people as “hey you” if they requested a particular pronoun.
In another post, Ms. Geiger said that “LGB are more than welcome” but transgender people were not.
“This stance was taken to insure that clients have the best experience and I am admitting that since I am not willing to play the pronoun game or cater to requests outside of what I perceive as normal this probably isn’t the best option for that type of client,” she said.
In a third post, Ms. Geiger said there were only two genders and said “anything else is a mental health issue.”
Belief that one is another gender used to be designated a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association, but that was changed in 2012.
A woman and two people who say they are nonbinary filed complaints over Ms. Geiger’s statements, alleging they suffered from emotional distress and mental anguish.
The investigation substantiated the alleged violations of the law, Mr. Johnson said.
“Studio 8 violated the law by denying their services to specific individuals based on sex,” he told reporters.
Even if no people were turned away after going to the salon, Ms. Geiger still violated the law by advertising that some people would be, he added.
“The respondent made sure the people in her community and beyond knew her position,” he said.
The next step following the charge is for an administrative law judge to hear the case and issue a recommendation for the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, which will issue an order.
Possible repercussions include fines.
Ms. Geiger did not respond to requests for comment.
Her salon is located in Traverse City, which is next to the Grand Traverse Bay.
Ms. Geiger previously told the Associated Press she stood by her posts.
“I just don’t want the woke dollar,” she said, adding later, “I’d rather not be as busy than to have to do services that I don’t agree with.”
Ms. Geiger said in a recent lawsuit that the three people who complained about her posts violated her rights to free speech and free exercise of religion, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.
“Studio 8 supports the rights of expressive businesses and their owners to express their beliefs and conduct their business in a way that promotes those beliefs and does not promote contrary beliefs,” the lawsuit stated.
“Studio 8 simply wishes to enjoy those same freedoms. Yet the CRA [Civil Rights Act] and ND [Non-Discrimination Ordinance] strips Studio 8 of these freedoms. That is the foundational reason for this lawsuit—to restore Studio 8 to an equal footing with other expressive business owners in regard to their right to express messages that are consistent with their beliefs, and to avoid expressing those messages that are not,” it also said.
Traverse City was also named in the complaint.
Traverse City Mayor Richard Lewis has said Ms. Geiger’s behavior was discriminatory.
According to the suit, Ms. Geiger’s salon “wants to use its talents and the expressive platform they have in Studio 8 to celebrate and promote God’s design for male and female” and believes “that God is calling to promote and celebrate His design for the creation of male and female by promoting the business for male and female.”
The suit cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, in which the nation’s top court found that Colorado’s law requiring a website designer to create websites to celebrate same-sex weddings infringed on her constitutional rights.
Mon, 11/20/2023 – 11:50