Michigan AG: LGBTQ Discrimination at Traverse City Salon ‘Likely’ Headed to Court

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks to protesters in Hamtramck on June 24. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

By Kyle Kaminski

July 12, 2023

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel expects recent discriminatory comments from a Northern Michigan salon owner to face a legal challenge under state civil rights laws, according to a spokesman for her office.

LANSING—The office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is calling out a northern Michigan salon this week over “hateful” and “bigoted” anti-LGBTQ remarks that were posted on its social media pages, with a Nessel spokesperson telling The ‘Gander on Wednesday that the salon owner’s stated refusal to serve LGBTQ people will “likely be litigated” in a courtroom.

“We have received several complaints pertaining to the bigotry exhibited by the salon proprietor in Traverse City, and the Attorney General finds the comments to be hateful, reprehensible remarks that seek only to marginalize a community already suffering from discriminatory animus in Michigan and elsewhere,” Nessel’s spokesperson said. 

Christine Geiger, who owns Studio 8 Hair Lab in Traverse City, is facing a deluge of criticism this week after the Kansas City Star first reported on her recent social media posts, which said that anyone who “identifies as anything other than a man/woman” is “not welcome at this salon.”

The post has since been deleted, but in the biography section for the business’ private Instagram page, the salon owner says she “does not cater to woke ideologies.” Geiger also doubled down on the remarks in a separate social media post on Sunday—noting that she specifically refuses to support or provide services to non-binary and transgender people.

Geiger’s bigoted business stance—which arrived just days after the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of a Christian web designer in Colorado who refuses to build websites for same-sex weddings—was to ensure “clients have the best experience,” she wrote on Facebook.

The Supreme Court ruling, which has been billed as a devastating blow to LGBTQ protections, found that businesses that sell “expressive” goods (like website design services) are shielded by the First Amendment from being forced to provide services to LGTBQ couples.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Geiger is in the clear, according to Nessel’s office. 

The recent Supreme Court ruling is “not a blanket invitation to discriminate,” Nessel’s spokesman said. He also noted that Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act still “remains available” to defend the civil rights of Michiganders and to crack down on discrimination.

In March, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that added new protections to state civil rights laws that shield against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Because the Supreme Court ruling does not apply to businesses and services that do not constitute free speech or “expressive” speech, “any subsequent actions of the salon” that may run afoul of the state’s Civil Rights Act is “likely to be litigated in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling,” Nessel’s spokesperson told The ‘Gander.

“The Department of Attorney General will continue to fight to protect the equal rights of all Michiganders,” according to a statement from Nessel’s office. “Any Michigan residents experiencing discrimination may file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.”

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Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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