Advance Notice: Briefs

LGBTQ+ rights group appeals to Michigan Supreme Court after state board rejects ballot measure

By: - August 5, 2021 11:27 am

Susan J. Demas

Fair and Equal Michigan, the group aiming to amend the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to expand anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ residents, filed an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court Wednesday after the Board of State Canvassers last week rejected the group’s petition. 

The LGBTQ+ rights advocates are aiming to get the initiative on the 2022 ballot. 

Fair and Equal Michigan argues in the appeal that the Board cannot decline  to certify a petition for insufficient signatures when the Bureau of Elections (BOE) selects a sampling mechanism without following practices and procedures promulgated under the Administrative Procedures Act, the BOE invalidates petition sheets and individual signatures based on standards not defined in the state’s election law and the BOE refuses to consider electronic signatures.

“We have raised serious concerns far beyond our fight for equal rights. The outcome of Fair and Equal Michigan’s appeal to the Supreme Court may fundamentally impact how ballot campaigns operate in the state moving forward,” said Fair and Equal Michigan Co-Chair Trevor Thomas during a media briefing Thursday. “This decision to file is not something we take lightly and are doing so with the deepest respect and love for our Constitution and our great state.”

Fair and Equal Michigan attorney Steve Liedel said that the group is asking the court to “direct the Board of [State] Canvassers and the bureau to count the new sample and only invalidate those signatures when an explicit provision of Michigan statute mandates that they be invalidated.”

Last month, BOE staff did a second review of the signatures submitted by Fair and Equal Michigan, but found that there were even more invalid signatures than they found in the first review. 

Among the thousands of signatures thrown out by the BOE staff were around 20,000 electronic signatures, which the BOE argues are invalid because they are unable to cross reference those signatures with signatures on voters’ registration files. 

Liedel said that there is not a current timeline on when the Supreme Court is expected to take action on this filing, but the deadline to make a determination on the Fair and Equal Michigan petition is not until July 2022. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.

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