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LGBTQ rights petition campaign may go on after SCOTUS decision

Hand holding rainbow LGBTQ flag
Stavrialena Gontzou

A petition campaign to add LGBTQ protections to Michigan’s civil rights law is deciding its next steps.

That’s after a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday that LGBTQ rights are already guaranteed by federal law.

Listen to Stateside's conversation with Jay Kaplan. He is a staff attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, which represented Aimee Stephens, the transgender woman whose employment discrimination case was at the center of Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The Fair and Equal Michigan signature-gathering campaign faces hurdles created by COVID-19 restrictions. The task of collecting 340,042 signatures is proving to be difficult and expensive.

The petition drive has moved online due to COVID-19 distancing rules. That makes it harder to gather signatures.

Jay Kaplan is with the ACLU of Michigan. He says whether it’s this year or in the future, it is still important to get those protections mentioned in state law.

“Do we want judges, do we want different judges to be interpreting what language means in a civil rights law as opposed to having explicit protections, explicit mentions of sexual orientation and gender identity to make it absolutely clear?”

Kaplan says the Legislature could also vote on bills to amend the law. The Legislature’s Republican leaders have shown no interest in bringing either bill up for a vote.

One of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case was a transgender woman who was fired in 2013 from her job at a Garden City funeral home.

Aimee Stephens did not live to see today’s decision. She passed away last month.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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