Group starts process to add LGBTQ protection to Michigan civil rights law

Fair and Equal Michigan is starting an initiative to extend civil rights protections to LGBTQ individuals. (Ludovic Bertron / CC BY 2.0)
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LANSING (WJRT) (1/7/2020) - The group Fair and Equal Michigan launched a process Tuesday that would ask voters to enshrine LGBTQ protections into Michigan law.

The group submitted petition language to the Board of State Canvassers in Lansing that seeks to initiate legislation amending the state's Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976.

The law outlaws discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status. The citizen-led initiative would clarify that the law extends to LGBTQ individuals.

LGBTQ groups asked the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to include them under the Elliott Larsen law in 2017. Former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion in 2018 saying LBGTQ issues were not covered by the law, however.

The Civil Rights Commission is reviewing claims of LGBTQ discrimination in Michigan. Fair and Equal Michigan says it has fielded more than 1,000 requests for help in the past four years.

Tuesday's action of submitting proposed petition language in the first part in a long process to bring the issue before voters. After the Board of Canvassers approves petition language, Fair and Equal Michigan has until May 27 to collect signatures from 340,047 registered voters.

If the group obtains enough signatures, the Legislature has 40 days to enact the law change or submit it to voters on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.