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Yesterday, Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens gave the Fair and Equal Michigan LGBTQ citizens’ initiative a 69-day extension to collect the signatures required to be considered by the state’s legislature. That period is meant to account for Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order that organizers say impeded the signature-collection process. Fair and Equal Michigan is working to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections, and it will need 340,047 signatures to meet its goal. Stephens rejected the group’s plea to reduce signature requirements to 127,000.
“Our march for equality continues full speed. The Court of Claims recognized that COVID-19 impacted the fundamental constitutional rights of our nearly 200,000 supporters,” said a Fair and Equal Michigan press release. “The Court is giving us until October to collect the remaining signatures, setting up a lame-duck defining moment on equal rights later this year.”
If successful in its efforts, the petition’s language will either be immediately adopted by the state Legislature or modified and slated to appear on Michiganders’ ballots.
“The decision will help the group’s efforts to now qualify for the 2022 ballot rather than the 2020 election,” read an AP report. “… Fair and Equal Michigan began circulating petitions on Feb. 3, with a focus on making this November’s statewide ballot. It said it now has until Oct. 9 to finish collecting signatures. If the group gets enough, the initiated bill would go to lawmakers and — because the Republican-led Legislature likely would not act — to a public vote in November 2022.”
The report went on to say that as of May 24, the group had almost 178,000 signatures with 135,000 “projected to be valid.” Assuming the projection is accurate, the group currently has 39 percent of the needed signatures.