“Despite significant challenges, more than 500,000 Michigan citizens from both sides of the political aisle continue a disciplined approach to pass Michigan’s first LGBTQ-rights law to prohibit discrimination,” said Fair and Equal Michigan Co-Chair Trevor Thomas. “While we hoped for discussion with Legislative leaders ahead of filing signatures, we urge the Legislature to finally act so that all Michiganders have a fair and equal chance to succeed.”Once the Board of State Canvassers certifies the petitions as valid, Michigan lawmakers will have 40 days to either pass the legislation or send the issue to voters in 2022 general election. In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of LGBTQ rights in a case brought by Michigan resident Aimee Stephens. The ruling, however, applies narrowly to federal employment covered by the U.S. Civil Rights Act. By amending Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, Fair and Equal Michigan’s initiative will provide broader protections in the areas of local employment, housing, education and public accommodations and services.
Currently, it is legal to fire an employee or deny a person housing or public services if that person identifies or is suspected of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission confirmed it has nearly 50 LGBTQ discrimination-based cases and Equality Michigan reported over 1,000 calls for help. For 37 consecutive years, the Michigan Legislature has failed to pass a law protecting LGBTQ rights. The state’s current civil rights 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.
Fair and Equal Michigan has amassed support from leaders and organizations across the state since its launch in January 2020. Its honorary leadership committee includes LGBTQ advocates, business executives, 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.