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State board approves language for new petition drive to expand protections for LGBTQ

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Yannis Papanastasopoulos
The official language summarizing a petition to expand protections for the LGBTQ community in Michigan was approved by the Board of State Canvassers Tuesday.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved language Tuesday afternoon for a new petition drive that would expand protections for the LGBTQ community.

The petition wants to expand the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 to include protections based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” instead of saying “sex” and “religious beliefs of an individual” instead of religion.

Jonathan Brater is the director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections. He says it doesn’t entirely shore up legal challenges, but it makes them less likely.

“It means that someone can’t challenge the petition on the grounds that the summary that was printed on the petition doesn’t accurately reflect what was in the petition,” he says.

Trevor Thomas, president of Fair and Equal Michigan, says the group is hoping to start collecting signatures this weekend.

“The LGBTQ community is fired up, and as soon as we have our signed affidavit for the printer, we’ll move forward and print 50,000 petition sheets,” he says.

Republicans in the state legislature have opposed previous measures to expand protections saying it could limit people’s freedom of religion.

The group needs to collect over 340,000 signatures by late May for the initiative to move to the ballot.

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