WEDNESDAY, Feb. 12 — Organizers of a ballot campaign that aims to bolster civil rights protections for Michigan’s LGBTQ community will be out collecting petition signatures tomorrow in East Lansing.
Officials at Fair and Equal Michigan will begin collecting signatures for its proposed amendment to ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in Michigan. The kickoff event is scheduled to run from 6 to 9 p.m. tomorrow, Feb. 13, at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing.
“Many people are surprised to learn that you can, sadly, still be fired from your job or kicked out of your home for the sole reason of who you are and who you love. That is wrong, and our ballot initiative will end that injustice,” Trevor Thomas, cochairman of Fair and Equal Michigan, explained in a recent press release.
Organizers have until May 27 to collect 340,047 signatures to bring the issue before the state legislature. The goal: Amend Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to specifically bolster protections for LGBTQ people. The petition language was formally approved late last month by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers.
State law already protects individuals against discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing based on 10 factors, including age, race, sex and religion. The petition aims to expand that language by defining “sex” as including “gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.” It would also further amend the existing definition of “religion” to specifically include “the religious beliefs of an individual.”
If organizers can gather enough signatures, state lawmakers will have 40 days to adopt the proposed amendments. If the legislature fails to act or outright rejects the proposal — as has been done during previous attempts to amend the law — it will head to voters to decide during this year’s General Election, in November.
Recent polling data shows 77% of voters support the measure, including 66% of Republican voters. And since the campaign was announced this year, it has continued to amass a broad base of support from leaders across the state. Organizers also said more than $600,000 has been raised during the first few weeks of the ballot initiative.
Visit fairandequalmichigan.com for more information about other opportunities to sign the petition. Organizers plan to update supporters online and via email each week about upcoming events. Interested volunteers or volunteer sign-up locations can reach the campaign directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.