Michigan Residents Gain Signatures to Prohibit LGBTQ Discrimination
Michigan Gains 100,000 Signatures to stop discrimination within the LGBTQ community.
A coalition of civil rights, business and political leaders are launching a petition to expand Michigan law by including anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender residents. It was an idea first proposed in the year 1983 and has grown extremely popular due to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. Trevor Thomas, a co-chair of the new Fair and Equal Michigan ballot committee and board chair for Equality Michigan Action stated, "We just want to be judged on the job we do — not who we are or who we love—and we want to be treated equally in the eyes of government."
Fair and Equal Michigan was created on Tuesday, January 7th, with the goal to create a citizens' bill in the State Legislature after advocates collect 340,047 citizen signatures. Then, after 40 days, the Legislature will have to adopt the action as written or send it for the voters to decide on. Supporters of this include the leaders of DOW, Consumers Energy and DTE energy and also Tim Cook who is the chief executive of Apple.
"In just five weeks, we've scaled from zero to 628 fully trained volunteers along with a 145-person paid field team that led to our 100,000th signature collected. With broad support across the state our effort continues to be on time, on budget and at signature quality. After 37 years of attempts, it is time for the Legislature to give all Michiganders a fair and equal chance to succeed," Trevor said.
Current Michigan law prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, etc. While similar anti-discrimination proposals have been pushed since 2014, GOP leaders have not acted on any of those calls that have been made.
"Advancing the fair treatment of all people - regardless of their race, religion, disability, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity - is a key component of retaining and growing a world-class, talented workforce," Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe said in a statement.
House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, has previously questioned the need for LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections and won the election in 2014 when they defeated a republican who enforced gay rights legislation.
"You've seen these laws passed in other states where what happens, in my opinion, is a reverse discrimination against those who have religious beliefs," stated Chatfield.
In order for the ballot to be recognized, the organizers will need at least 340,047 valid voter signatures within 180 days to qualify for the 2020 election, but before that, they will ask the Board Of State Canvassers to approve the form of petition before they can circle and start the signatures. State lawmakers will still have "a chance to lead," Thomas told Bridge Magazine in a phone interview.
Working with the new ballot committee, Richard Czbua asked 600 Michigan voters whether an employer should be fired because of their sexual orientation conflict with the employee's beliefs. Eighty-three percent of respondents said "no," according to Czuba, who attributed growing support for anti-discrimination protections primarily to a shift by Republican voters.
"There are very few issues that have polled this way in Michigan," he said. "Auto insurance reform is one. Protecting the Great Lakes is another. And this is the third I think that polls at this kind of level across the partisan divide."
If this petition is executed, Michigan would join 21 other states with laws that already prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the non-profit Movement Advancement Project.