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Michigan’s legislators won’t protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Now voters may do it.

Michigan’s legislators won’t protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Now voters may do it.
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A new ballot initiative would add nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people to Michigan’s state civil rights law. Activists and corporations pushing the initiative say they’ll take the issue to the voting booth since state legislators can’t get it done.

Major corporations, civil rights groups, and labor unions are joining together to push the initiative to the ballot if legislators don’t add the protections in this session.

Related: Michigan’s attorney general just said it’s legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people

Current law protects people from discrimination based on religion, race, national origin, height, weight, color, familial status, age, sex, or marital status. The initiative would re-define the word “sex” in the law to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

The bipartisan effort to protect LGBTQ citizens has been met with roadblocks by Republicans in the state legislature.

“Every Michigander should have an equal chance at success, without threat of being fired, harassed, or demoted just because the boss doesn’t like that they’re gay or transgender,” said Trevor Thomas, Co-Chair and President of Fair and Equal Michigan and Board Chair for Equality Michigan Action, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, told the outlet.

“After waiting 37 years, this effort gives the legislature eight additional months to pass these basic human rights. If they can’t get the job done, our Constitution affords Michiganders the right to vote to ensure that workers are judged on the job they do, not who they are or who they love.”

“When I co-sponsored Michigan’s Civil Rights Act in 1973 with Rep. Daisy Elliott, it was about treating everybody equally, especially in employment, housing and our most basic of services; it is long past the time to recognize sexual orientation and gender identity,” former state representative Mel Larsen added.

“The legislature can act at any time to amend the Civil Rights Act. This coalition of Michigan citizens has support across LGBTQ groups, the business and philanthropic sectors, and both sides of the political aisle. There is more that brings us together – than forces us apart.”

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