THURSDAY, Jan. 30 — A petition that aims to amend Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBTQ community was approved this week by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers.
Organizers now have until May 27 to collect 340,047 signatures to bring the issue before the state legislature.
“We will now begin the process of asking Michigan voters to sign our petition to finally outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ individuals when it comes to jobs, education, housing and public accomodations,” said Trevor Thomas, co-chairman of Fair and Equal Michigan, the organization behind the initiative.
Michigan’s laws already protects individuals against discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing based on 10 factors, including age, race, sex and religion. This 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.”
“Michiganders understand that everyone deserves a fair chance to succeed and that no one should be fired from their job or kicked out of their home based on who they are or who they love,” said Mira Jourdan, who is cochairing the campaign. “This still gives the legislature an opportunity to decide on this issue, and we very much hope they will support our proposal, but it also allows voters to have a final say if lawmakers choose to leave the issue to them.”
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 percent of voters support the measure, including 66 percent of Republican voters.
Since it was announced earlier this month, the campaign has amassed a broad base of support from leaders across the state. Its honorary leadership committee includes LGBTQ advocates, business executives and elected officials, including Lansing Mayor Andy Schor. And several other local officials have since offered support.
“If we leave it at the status quo, with the way things have been going, you’re going to see more discrimination and more rights of these individuals being suppressed,” Bryan Crenshaw, a gay man and chairman of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners said previously. “This will bring us all closer to total inclusivity.”
Visit fairandequalmichigan.com for more information about how, when and where 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.
Click here for our previous coverage on the initiative, including additional perspectives from Greater Lansing.