Bishop Ira Combs Jr. of Jackson, founder and pastor of Greater Bible Way Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith been appointed to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission by Union busting Governor Rick Snyder, sparking some outrage from Democrats, the state’s American Civil Rights Union and LGBT activists for his history of opposition to gay marriage and “LGBT equality measures.”
Combs, an ultra-conservative Republican believes in “traditional marriage values” and spoke against Jackson’s passage last year of a nondiscrimination ordinance, which bans disparate treatment based on gender identification and sexual orientation. Combs called it overreaching and the language “severe,” but says he does not support discrimination.
Equality Michigan, an LGBT advocacy group, released a statement on Friday condemning Snyder’s selection. “Combs’ 20-year track record of demonizing and vilifying LGBT Michiganders is embarrassing. It should go without saying that someone so committed to depriving a group of Michiganders of their basic civil rights has no business on the Civil Rights Commission.”
Comb’s opinions have long been public. As president in the 1970s of Michigan State University’s Pan-Hellenic Council, which he helped create to oversee black fraternities, he spoke out against a gay student who ran for president of the student body because he did not represent “family values,” according to a Citizen Patriot profile published in 2001, when Combs served on a steering committee for then President George W. Bush’s “faith-based initiative.”
Kary Moss of the ACLU Michigan echoed the sentiment. “At a time when our nation is so divided, the Governor’s appointment to the commission of someone who has blatantly opposed the rights of the LGBT community is a huge disappointment,” she said in the same statement.