LANSING – Fair and Equal Michigan, the campaign to pass Michigan’s first LGBTQ equal rights law, applauded Southwest Michigan First and its new CEO and former House Speaker Lee Chatfield. As reported in Bridge Michigan, Mr. Chatfield has made clear his support for Fair and Equal Michigan’s proposed amendment to Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act that would prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in employment, housing, public accommodation, public services, and education.

Statement by Fair and Equal Michigan Co-Chair Mira Jourdan:

“Kalamazoo and southwestern Michigan has long stood up for equal rights and the move to support the citizens' initiative by Southwest Michigan First and CEO Lee Chatfield should be applauded. We look forward to his active engagement on the issue as we continue to work with the Legislature to pass this initiative.

“By working together, including the leadership of Kalamazoo Commissioner Erin Knott, we have the unique opportunity to finally prohibit the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. More than 500,000 people signed a petition calling on the State House and Senate to pass the citizens' bill as written by Fair and Equal Michigan. LGBTQ people have been fired from their job, kicked out of their house, or denied basic services simply for who they are or who they love. By working together, we can move toward equal rights for all and be on the right side of history."

Fair and Equal Michigan is supported by AFL-CIO, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber, Apple, Business Leaders for Michigan, Bells Brewing, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Capitol Fundraising Associates, Carpenters and Joiners of America, Consumers Energy, Delta Dental, Detroit Lions, Detroit Regional Chamber, Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Dominos, Doner, Dow, DTE Energy, Dupont, Dykema, Equality Michigan Action, Fair Michigan, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Flagstar Bank, Ford, Founders Brewing, General Motors, GLAAD, Google, Hemlock Semiconductor, Herman Miller, ITC Holdings, Jackson National Life, Jim Toy Center, Kellogg Company, Kelly Services, LPAC, Martin Waymire, Michigan Education Association, Masco, Motor City Pride, National Organization for Women, Pfizer, Rock Holdings, SEIU Michigan, Siebert Williams Shank & Co., Steelcase, Switch, TCF Bank, Trans Sistas of Color Project, Trilogy Interactive. 

Additionally, 37 national groups announced support for the effort last week: 


 Background: For the first time ever, 530,000 Michigan citizens – including business, philanthropy, and leaders from both sides of the political aisle – joined LGBTQ advocacy groups to proclaim: Every Michigander should have an equal chance to succeed. The effort collected citizen signatures to introduce a bill to finally prohibit LGBTQ discrimination, make Michigan a talent attraction hub and grow Michigan jobs.

Current Status: Once the citizens’ petition is certified it is transmitted to the house and senate floor; no amendments are permitted. Lawmakers have limited options on the people’s bill: Pass it and it becomes immediate law without the governor’s signature or send the question to the 2022 ballot. Lawmakers cannot write over the people’s bill at a later date without 3/4ths of both house, senate and signature of governor.

Key Milestones:

  • Held 1.2 million pro-equality, citizen conversations;
  • Collected approx. 530,000 signatures;
  • Submitted 483,461 signatures of 340,047 required by law;
  • Trained 628 volunteers;
  • Employed 230 field organizers;
  • Cultivated 1,407 individual grassroots donors who gave 3,120 times;
  • Raised $2,932,837 despite pandemic;
  • Conducted multi-level audit process to submit best quality signatures;
  • Sued in Court to extend signature collection timeline;
  • Supported by Business Leaders for Michigan, Detroit Regional Chamber, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber;
  • Supported by 21 mayors representing nearly 2 million citizens;
  • Established leadership committee of 80 Michigan leaders

>> The Problem: Right now in Michigan, we need state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations or public services of LGBTQ people. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission confirmed it has nearly 50 LGBTQ discrimination-based cases and Equality Michigan reported over 1,000 calls for help.

>> The Complication: For 38 consecutive years, the Michigan Legislature has failed to pass a law expressly protecting LGBTQ rights. The state’s current law, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, prohibits discrimination based upon religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. The first LGBTQ-rights bill was introduced in 1983 by Republican Rep. Jim Dressel, a former Air Force fighter pilot from Holland, MI, who received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

>> The Solution: Fair and Equal Michigan aims to pass the first-ever LGBTQ rights law through a citizens’ bill by petition. The petition defines “sex” to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Citizens’ submitted petition signatures in October 2020. The difference-maker: The Legislature is required to pass it or send the question to voters on the 2022 ballot. Lawmakers cannot vote it down. 



Josh Hovey, Fair and Equal Michigan