The group Fair and Equal Michigan wanted to hold a referendum on whether the state’s 1976 civil rights act should be amended so that it prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Not enough valid signatures
Fair and Equal Michigan had about 263,000 valid signatures on their petition. They needed a little over 76,000 more for their petition to be sent to the 2022 ballot.
After the Michigan Board of State Canvassers disqualified thousands of signatures, the group took their case to court.
Michigan Supreme Court refuses to hear the appeal
The Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear Fair and Equal’s appeal.
The campaign is officially over, but the hope of obtaining protection against discrimination doesn’t have to die with it.
“While we are disappointed that the court won’t act to recognize legally valid signatures thrown out by the state, it’s clear the best opportunity to achieve LGBTQ equal rights in Michigan is to place full focus on Attorney General Dana Nessel’s historic case currently before the Michigan Supreme Court,” Fair and Equal Michigan Co-Chair Trevor Thomas said in a statement.
Court cases that can change everything
It’s official, Michigan’s Supreme Court has already agreed to rule on the ban of sex discrimination, but will it find that sexual orientation and gender identity are covered by this category?
This is a story of two businesses that discriminated against their customers. The first one was Rouch World, a wedding venue in Sturgis, and Uprooted Electrolysis, a hair salon in Marquette.
Both companies have turned away LGBTQ people- a same-sex couple in the case of Rouch world, and a transgender woman with Uprooted Electrolysis.
The couple and the transgender woman filed a complaint after being discriminated against. The fate of their case is now in the hands of Michigan’s Supreme Court.
Also, Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, who is bisexual, introduced a bill on February 23, 2021, to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which currently protects against discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, and marital status.
Rep. Laurie Pohutsky
The purpose of House Bill 4297 is to add protections for LGBTQ people against discrimination.
The bill is currently pending in the Michigan legislature.
The Equality Act
Finally, there is the Equality Act which could end discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas such as public accommodations, facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.
The bill would also prohibit denying a person access to shared facilities, such as restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms that are consistent with their identity.
Finally, it would also allow the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection cases.
The Equality Act is awaiting a hearing in the Judiciary Committee after passing the House with a 224-206 vote.
All hope is not lost! The Fair and Equal Michigan campaign may be dead, but we can still fight for protection from discrimination.