The Michigan Board of Elections has approved a petition to place an anti-discrimination law for LGBTQ people on the ballot.
After ruling that the petition lacked 76,000 valid voter signatures, the Michigan elections board denied certification of the petition to add an LGBTQ anti-hate statute to the ballot.
The petition was rejected in a 4-0 vote by two Democrats and two Republicans. After a second assessment by the elections bureau, it was determined that Fair and Equal Michigan had only submitted about 263,000 valid signatures.
The group said it will appeal the decision in court after spending $2.9 million to collect more than 468,000 signatures. According to spokesman Josh Hovey, the organization believes many of the signatures were thrown out incorrectly.
“Fair and Equal Michigan presented the board with multiple examples of how a large percentage of our signatures were illegally thrown out,” Hovey said.
“The Board of Canvassers never responded to our concerns about how the Bureau of Elections handled our petitions, and we are convinced that if all of our valid signatures were counted, we would easily achieve the threshold to proceed.”
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The plan would amend the state’s civil rights statute from 1976 to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Organizers hope to present the bill to the Republican-controlled Legislature, where similar legislation has languished for years. If lawmakers do not act, a statewide vote will be held in November 2022.
Many signatures were judged ineligible by election officials because the signers were not registered voters or because the address, date, or other information was incorrect.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ-rights organization, more than 20 states expressly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations, while one state, Wisconsin, prohibits discrimination against gays and lesbians but not transgender people.
The United States Supreme Court declared in 2020 that a federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian, and transgender people from workplace discrimination. Supporters of the Michigan bill claim that it would expand rights in local employment, housing, and public accommodations.
The Michigan Supreme Court has decided to look at whether the state’s existing anti-discrimination law applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. Rouch World, a wedding venue and park in Sturgis, filed the case. This is a condensed version of the information.