Michigan Supreme Court kills initiative to protect LGBTQ residents from discrimination

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A petition-driven initiative to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in Michigan is now dead after the Michigan Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to rule on whether organizers collected enough signatures.

Fair and Equal Michigan asked the court to review the case after the Michigan Board of State Canvassers unanimously rejected certification in July, saying the group lacks the necessary signatures.

The group’s goal was to force state lawmakers to vote to extend 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, marital status, and marital status. But it does not protect residents based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Michigan Supreme Court said there was no compelling reason to grant the desired relief.

“After 38 years of lawmakers ignoring us, we set out to collect and exploit citizen signatures to force lawmakers to finally come to the table and negotiate – and we succeeded,” said Trevor Thomas, of the Fair and Equal Michigan Campaign. co-chairman. in a statement. “That conversation will continue until Elliott-Larsen is finally changed.”

The Michigan Bureau of Elections initially rejected the petition in July, saying the group collected about 299,000 signatures from registered voters, about 40,000 less than the required number.

Fair and Equal Michigan, which was formed in January 2020, claims that it collected enough signatures and accused the agency of invalidating legitimate signatures.

The agency based its decision on analyzing a sample of 502 signatures, saying only 337 were valid, falling below the 398 required for certification. Supporters called for counting a larger sample size.

For at least two decades, Democrats have enacted legislation to include the protection of the LGBTQ community, but each time, Republicans prevented the bills from going to the polls. In March, Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer renewed their calls to amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, but Republicans have refused to advance the legislation.

More than 20 states in the United States provide full protection against discrimination for LGBTQ people.

Thomas said his group now sees another case before the Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel plans to argue that the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act should protect people based on their sexual orientation.

“While we are disappointed that the court will not act to recognize legally valid signatures thrown out of the state, it is clear that the best way to achieve LGBTQ equal rights in Michigan is to put full focus on Justice Minister Dana Nessel’s historic case. currently before the Michigan Supreme Court, ‚ÄĚThomas said.

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