Michigan Board Rules Petition to Put LGBTQ Anti-Hate Law on Ballot 76K Names Short

The Michigan elections board ruled against certifying a petition to add an LGBTQ anti-hate law to the ballot after determining the petition was short 76,000 valid voter signatures.

Two Democrats and two Republicans ruled in a 4-0 vote to reject the petition. The vote came after a second review by the elections bureau that estimated Fair and Equal Michigan only turned in roughly 263,000 legitimate signatures.

The group had spent $2.9 million to gather more than 468,000 signatures, and said it would appeal the determination in court. Spokesman Josh Hovey said the organization felt many of the signatures had been improperly thrown out.

"Fair and Equal Michigan provided numerous examples to the board detailing how a significant number of our signatures were improperly thrown out," Hovey said.

"The Board of Canvassers never addressed the issues we raised with the way the Bureau of Elections staff handled our petitions, and we are confident that if all our valid signatures were counted then we would easily meet the threshold to move forward."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

LGBTQ Protests
The proposal by Fair and Equal Michigan would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. Demonstrators in favor of LGBT rights rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, October 8, 2019, as the Court holds oral arguments in three cases dealing with workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The proposal would revise the state's 1976 civil rights law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. Organizers want to place the measure before the Republican-led Legislature, where similar legislation has long stalled. If lawmakers did not act, it would go to a statewide vote in November 2022.

Election staffers ruled many signatures ineligible because the signers were not registered voters or because of address, date or other errors.

More than 20 states expressly bar discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity while another—Wisconsin—prohibits discrimination against gays and lesbians but not transgender people, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ-rights organization.

In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. Supporters of the Michigan measure have said it would provide broader protections in local employment along with housing and public accommodations.

The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the state's existing ban against sex discrimination covers sexual orientation and gender identity. The lawsuit was filed by Rouch World, a Sturgis-based wedding venue and park, and Marquette-based Uprooted Electrolysis after they refused services to a same-sex couple and a transgender woman who subsequently filed complaints with the state Department of Civil Rights.

Gay rights Detroit Michigan
The Michigan elections board ruled against certifying a petition to add an LGBTQ anti-hate law to the ballot. Above, gay marriage supporters protest next to pro-traditional marriage supporters in front of the U.S. Federal Courthouse March 3, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images