Petition language approved for LGBTQ civil rights ballot proposal

Campaign has until end of May to collect the required 340,047 signatures

January 28, 2020

LANSING, MI – The Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved petition language today for a ballot initiative that would amend the state Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The Fair and Equal Michigan campaign now has until May 27 to collect 340,047 valid signatures required to bring the issue in front of the state legislature.

“We appreciate the work the staff at the Department of State and members of the State Board of Canvassers have done to review our petition language,” said Fair and Equal Michigan Co-Chair Trevor Thomas. “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 accommodations.”

Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act already protects individuals against discrimination in employment, public accommodation and housing based on 10 factors, including age, race, sex, and religion. The Fair and Equal Michigan initiative would amend the current law by defining “sex” as including “gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.” It would also define “religion” as including “the religious beliefs of an individual.”

The campaign amassed a broad base of support from leaders across the state. Its honorary leadership committee includes LGBTQ advocates, business executives from some of Michigan’s largest employers, former state Democratic and Republican party chairs as well as the original author of the state civil rights law, former GOP State Rep. Mel Larsen. In addition, more than 50 faith leaders from across the state announced their support for LGBTQ civil rights protections last week.

“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 campaign co-chair Dr. Mira Jourdan. “This proposal 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.”

Once enough valid signatures are submitted, the Michigan Legislature will have 40 days to adopt the proposed amendments to the state civil rights law without change. If the Legislature does not act, or rejects the proposal, it will be submitted to Michigan voters for approval at the November 3, 2020, General Election.

According to research by the non-partisan Glengariff Group, 77 percent of voters support the measure. This includes 66 percent of Republican voters.