Michigan State Council to Consider Rejected Initiative to Protect LGBTQ Residents from Discrimination

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Update: The Michigan Board of Solssers voted 4-0 to reject the signature certification. Fair and Equal Michigan said it plans to challenge the decision in the Court of Appeal.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers plans to meet on Monday to determine the fate of a petition-based initiative to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in Michigan.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections rejected the initiative earlier this month, saying organizers had not collected enough valid signatures.

Michigan fair and equal collected about 299,000 signatures from registered voters, below the 340,047 required for certification, according to the office. But the group, which formed in January 2020, says it collected enough signatures and accused the office of invalidating legitimate signatures.

The office based its decision on analyzing a sample of 502 signatures and said only 337 were valid, below the 398 needed for certification. Supporters are calling for a larger sample size to be counted.

The bipartisan committee of canvassers will give the petition a fresh look and could side with the office, request that a larger sample be counted, or reject the office’s finding. If the board sided with Fair and Equal Michigan, the initiative would go to the GOP-controlled legislature.

The group’s goal is to force state lawmakers to vote on expanding the state’s civil rights law to include a ban on discrimination against LGBTQ residents. Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in housing and employment based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, family status and marital status. But it does not protect residents based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

For at least two decades, Democrats have introduced legislation to include protections for the LGBTQ community, but each time Republicans have blocked the bills from being voted on.

If the board certifies the initiative and the legislature rejects it, it will appear on the November 2020 ballot for voters to decide.

In March, Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer renewed calls for changes to the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, but Republicans were reluctant to push the legislation forward.

More than 20 states in the United States offer comprehensive protection against discrimination for LGBTQ people.

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