MICHIGAN: Activists File For 2016 LGBT Rights Vote

Michigan activists yesterday filed the paperwork to place a broad LGBT anti-discrimination constitutional amendment to a public vote in November 2016. The Detroit Free Press reports:

Dana Nessel, the Michigan attorney who took the same-sex marriage case all the way to the Supreme Court, is leader of Fair Michigan, which hopes to begin gathering petition signatures for the ballot proposal early next year. “We would just be adding different classes of people to the constitution who aren’t getting protection now,” she said, including gender, gender identity, sex and sexual orientation, which will cover both women and the LGBT community. “The fact is that the Michigan Legislature has ignored efforts to protect people, so it’s time we gave Michigan voters the power,” she added. Gov. Rick Snyder and many in the business community have called on the Legislature to add the LGBT community to the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in hiring and housing, but the issue never even made it out of a legislative committee.

In the next step the group will submit the measure’s language to the Michigan secretary of state. Upon approval, they must then collect about 316,000 petition signatures by the deadline. Nessel was the attorney for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse. DeBoer V Snyder was of one of the four consolidated cases that resulted in the Obergefell ruling.

  • bkmn

    Good for them. I hope they start airing ads ASAP saying that the people that oppose this are going to be lying A LOT. And run that ad constantly.

    • They’re going to have to. And drag in all the dirt on the major anti-gay players that they can lay their hands on. There comes a time when being polite just doesn’t cut it.

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        • agcons

          Who the fuck is Margaret and what did she “answered”? Flagged.

        • Necessitas

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          Perhaps you’d like to contact him and tell him how you feel !

          John D Shaver is Realtor or real estate agent, broker located in Diamond Valley, UT, Washington county. John D Shaver real estate company, agency is ST GEORGE GMAC REAL ESTATE, located in 1060 S Main St, Ste 200, Diamond Valley, UT, 84770. If you are looking to buy, rent or sell real estate (home, apartment, villa, condo) in Diamond Valley, UT, feel free to contact John D Shaver at (435) 628-2200, or by email: [email protected], to request an appointment, get working hours, prices & available properties.

          Listing Details
          Agent Name
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  • David Walker

    Best of luck on this journey. I’d hoped Pennsylvania was going to show progress in changing our discrimination laws. It’s practically November, 5 months after the budget is supposed to be in place (the only constitutional mandate placed on our legislature), none of them is in jail for dereliction of duty, they’re on a pre-Thanksgiving break, and until the budget is done, nothing else will move. Do I need to mention that both houses are republican-dominated?

    • JoeNCA

      A couple years ago, California voters passed a constitutional amendment withholding all pay from legislators until they pass a budget. Never had a budget late since.

      • Gianni

        That is a great idea. Just placing a mandated deadline into a constitution won’t do it. If a legislature doesn’t meet the deadline, who’s going to punish them for their failure to meet their own requirements? Hitting them in the pocketbook removes the punishment completely from their control. That won’t ever happen in PA. I believe we have the largest legislative membership of any state and there are always enough votes to stop any positive moves to improve the working of the state government.

      • MichaelSactoBehr

        Yes, our California Legislature needs to pass a budget by June 15 for them to continue to get paid. Courts have ruled that they get paid after it is sent to the Governor. The budget doesn’t need to be signed by the governor nor be balanced.

      • David Walker

        Unfortunately, PA legislators work best at night and passed a bill that lets them collect their salaries and bribes with or without a budget. Other state workers? Funding for schools and nonprofits? No, but they don’t matter. It’s the honorable legislators who matter and fuck everybody else.

    • Oscarlating Wildely

      Preach it, my Pennsylvanian brother. This Commonwealth is the collective buttplug of progress in the Mid-Atlantic and throughout the east coast.

      • Robincho

        “Si Quæris Deformitatem Propriam, Circumspice.” There, fixed it…

        • Oscarlating Wildely

          Nice! Good Latin always makes me feel a bit hot and bothered, in the best of ways and places, of course.

          • Robincho

            Plus in this case it just sounds better than “Michigan — Fisting Lakes Michigan and Huron Since 1837″…

      • David Walker

        Really. I officially gave up hope when Brian Sims announced he was running for US rep. If he sees no hope for progress, I sure as hell don’t.

  • Harry Underwood

    I don’t want to hear any shit on this comment board about “We shouldn’t vote on human rights”. We’re not on that anymore. This isn’t marriage. We can’t rely on the courts for human rights extensions to sexual orientation and gender identity, because we are having to add new language to the law. The religious right fights dirty, and will force our human rights to a majority vote of the people. Better to play offense for our rights than play defense later.

    So kudos to Fair Michigan. If they need a phone bank, I’ll volunteer.

    • Skokieguy

      Why? Why not sue under the equal protection clause. This tactic means that we have always had equal rights, as already enshrined in the constitution. No new language, just a correct interpretation of existing law. I do NOT want people to vote on my rights.

      • Harry Underwood

        Because “equal protection” is applied to already-existent government services (like marriage), not to non-protected categories in housing, employment and accommodations.

        Did you read what happened to the Michigan worker who lost his job after years of anti-gay workplace abuse? No mention of SOGI in Missouri Human Rights Act, no protection under state law.

        Only way to fight it is through an EEOC complaint on “sex” discrimination, since it has been extended by the courts to SOGI. But it will always be on a case-by-case basis, not a matter of case law.

      • StraightGrandmother

        I think the answer is that the Constitution protects the citizens from the Government. It prevents the Government from encroaching on your Liberty.

        These Civil Rights Acts instead control citizens, the laws prevent what citizens can do towards each other. Therefore to get protection from Discrimination it has to be done through a political process, you can’t just go to court and get it, you have to pass laws that constrict citizens from behaving badly towards other citizens.

    • Gerry Fisher

      One of the problems is lack of education. Too many of our allies believe that we already have these rights. I’d like to see an education campaign precede a decision to spend tons of money on yet another nasty campaign.

      • Harry Underwood

        And that’s, unfortunately, what Houston was not prepared for. Mayor Parker fought having to take this to referendum, and no one expected the elected right-wingers on the Texas Supreme Court to grant certification to the anti-HERO faction. When that decision was made, it was too late to get a referendum education campaign out, despite HERO being in the news since 2014. Now it’s anyone’s guess how it will play out on Tuesday.

        I don’t want a repeat of Houston. Playing defense for your human rights is terrible.

    • Duane Dimitrov

      I SO GLAD to start hearing about how conservatives–which, of course, Christianist theocrats are a core constituency–do not, in fact, play fair.

      I am so sick of progressives attempting to “play fair,” and be equanimous.

      This is, in fact, a war. And, yes, these people, if given half an inch, will then reach for a mile…and their end goal is throwing us into the ovens…have no illusions about that.

  • Ben in Oakland

    I don’t want my rights up for a popular vote.

    • Blake Jordan

      Rethuglican riddled legislatures are not going to do it!

      What are the court arguments to be made for discrimination protects based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and why has no one made them yet?

      Sadly, public vote is going to be the most likely way to get those protections in the remain states…

      • Bruno

        Yes, at least it’ll be the quickest way to get those protections in a state like Michigan which has direct citizen initiatives.

      • Ben in Oakland

        I would be arguing for protection from discrimination on the basis of religious belief. I cannot understand why this isn’t being used.
        When Olson and boies were in San Francisco last year promoting their book, I asked them that question. They said it was being done, but could not give me a very real example of it. I remained unconvinced.

      • Ben in Oakland

        I would also add that I don’t see too many organizations capable of leading the charge. The sad campaign in Houston, which I am fairly certain we will lose, is a good example of that. The campaign against Prop. 8, a closet based campaign so deep within the closet that its POB was in Narnia– that soured me on most of our national and state organizations. we should have and could have won that one, but the campaign was so afraid of offending anyone that they offended people like me– solid, grounded, out, and experienced.

    • Soren456

      I’m completely on the fence about these measures, which I guess is progress since I have always been opposed to them.

      I can support this ONLY if we speak for ourselves (not a bunch of straights mewing “why not?”) and stay on our message—which is built of the FACTS of our lives: we can be—and are—denied employment, fired, denied housing, denied services because we are gay (or perceived to be).

      Appeals to “love” and to “fairness” are the weakest appeals we can make, and we should quit believing in them as movers of opinion.

      State the facts only, and state them over and over. Even if we lose, we’ve made our case, and it will stay in memory.

      • Ben in Oakland

        I agree with you 100%. As with prop8, gawdamighty, did that whole campaign piss me off. They seem to be doing the same in Houston, which is why I am fairly certain they’re going to lose.they simply do not want to talk about bigotry, especially religious bigotry

        • Soren456

          I’m unconvinced that calling out bigotry—as such—can work in a campaign like this, even though bigotry is exactly what it is about. It’s the opposite side of the “fairness and love” coin, and it’s useless.

          But I do think that stating the EFFECTS of bigotry factually, directly, only, and over and over explains us perfectly, and explains perfectly the relief we seek and reasons we seek it.

          We need to speak the things we experience, and only those things.

      • Gerry Fisher

        “Married on Saturday and fired/evicted on Monday” ads, alongside ads featuring a bunch of guys like Buck Angel saying, “Do you really want me in the women’s bathroom?”

        • how about one where we show xtians getting fired, beat up, jailed and abused by cops for kissing in public? big gayrollers crushing churches? helpless families losing everything when it’s revealed they are opposite sex xtians?

          and then the voice over says… “just imagine, if xtians really were facing this same discrimination that gays are today. would you vote to support that? would jeebus? so why are you voting to do the same to others?”

  • best of luck. the michigan GOP is among the most bigoted in the Union. Michigan is The South’s Revenge.

    • Octavio

      I thought it was Wisconsin.

      • Beagle

        I grew up in Wisconsin. You’re right, Octavio.

  • KnownDonorDad

    This should be an easier lift than marriage equality; if memory serves, major polls stopped asking whether people supported ENDA because it polled so high it wasn’t worth it. Mind you, the anti-gay side is going to dig in, and you know they’re going to raise the specter of transwomen in public restrooms, trying to somehow deputize everyone as bathroom spies. Brace yourselves.

    • Gerry Fisher

      We’ve got to flip the bathroom issue. I think the “Do you really want to see me in the women’s room?” campaign by butch, tattooed, bearded trans guys would do the trick.

      • KnownDonorDad

        Agreed 100%. It’s an irrational plan, even for them.

  • oikos

    Instead of reacting to anti-gay votes, this is what groups like HRC should be doing: putting rights bills on ballots in every state. Make the bigots work and spend money instead of our side always reacting.

    • Octavio

      If HRC does that we need to pony up a hell of a lot more money for them to succeed. Maybe Bernie Bucks method would work: $30 donated by every LGBT person in the country?

      • HRC is not at the top of my orgs to donate to list, just sayin. i like groups that spend their money on something other than parties and media events.

      • oikos

        They have lots of money…………………………for cocktail parties.

    • Ben in Oakland

      I would no more trust HRC to do anything of value than I would trust my Cat, Mr. sParky, with some freshly baked salmon. And I say this as someone who gave them money for years. They have demonstrated completely that they haven’t a clue what they are doing.

      • oikos

        I don’t trust them at all but advocacy rather than cocktail parties would be nice. They get none of my money which instead goes to Lambda and ACLU.

  • DutchBoy74

    No. Just no.

    I don’t want to see any more disgusting lying ad campaigns and LGBT rights being used as political football. I don’t want any more reason for the religious nutcases to come to the polls and shit like this will be the very thing to get the religious right to rally their holy army to vote for the most conservative fuckers out there.

    Please we do not need this voting on rights bullshit. You’ve seen what they do. They rally the religious against us. The republicans are in a complete disarray. We do not need LGBT rights to be the thing that rallies them.

    If they go forward with this vote I hope to goodness they have significant funding lined up to counter the vicious ads that the republicans and religious extremists are going to be spamming everywhere. It better be more than just cutsey “We are people too” bullshit because that will not be enough. You need to counter these ads hard and fast to expose the 10 levels of lies they spread.

    Who has the $25 Million ready to do this? This is going to be an expensive gamble.

    Do we need to remind ourselves of the past? Anything that is voted upon like this can be counter voted on the next session. Will of the people be damned.

    Once Michigan starts voting in progressives to solve this in legislature, then you can be confident in putting something like this up. Right now it is blood red. This legislature doesn’t exactly respect what people vote for either. We’ve seen that with the last few ballot initiatives. Right to work crap was voted down, yet Snyder didn’t care and shoved it through any ways – and got re-elected. That sham piece of legislation Prop 1 with road money being used as give-aways for everyone and their brother that got shot down overwhelmingly by the people is still festering in different forms in legislature.


    Start electing real progressives. The money and effort is better spent there.

    • Soren456

      I guess that I agree.

      If they don’t already have a campaign in mind—exactly what they will say and how they will say it—along with money in hand to fund it, they have no business imposing this predictably awful burden on the community.

    • Vista-Cruiser

      The situation would be a lot better in Michigan had Democratic-leaning residents bothered to vote back in 2010 and 2014.

      • DutchBoy74

        Pissed me off no one came out to vote. Darn right depressing. Even the people working there were flabbergasted at the lack of turn out.
        2014 I had someone else show up at the same time and they got all giddy. OMG I don’t think we’ve had TWO people voting at the same time.

        • Vista-Cruiser

          Democratic-leaning constituencies often don’t even realize when an election is approaching. If they do, they feel it’s “uncool” to actually go out and vote. This is one of the main reasons we were slaughtered back in 2010 and 2014.

          The worst part about it is that most Democratic Party “strategists” don’t even realize this is a serious problem. Some naively predict better turnout in the next election, while others simply resign themselves to poor turnout in midterm years.

    • Gerry Fisher

      I had a similar reaction. Given what’s happening in Houston, are they really that confident that, even if they did go through this expensive and painful process, we have a good chance of winning? Given Houston, I’m not so sure.

      • StraightGrandmother

        I’m not sure either about Houston.
        However this week-end they plan on knocking on an astounding 50,000 doors so maybe. We’ll see, but props to everyone for this tremendous effort.

      • Harry Underwood

        Houston went into the HERO referendum campaign mode way too late. That’s what worries me about Tuesday, even after phone banking for Prop 1.

    • Harry Underwood

      You won’t get “real progressives” into a majority in the Michigan legislature any time soon. The Democrats have been ruined in Michigan for the next few generations. The unions are thoroughly blamed for everything in the Midwest, and the GOP in Illinois want to absolutely crush unions, Democrats and “Chicago-style politics”. The Midwest GOP now follows the Southern GOP in conservative politics, anti-union zealotry, anti-human rights zealotry, elevation of ruralism and suburbanism over urbanism, and the race to the bottom.

      “The republicans are in a complete disarray. We do not need LGBT rights to be the thing that rallies them.”

      DUDE. DEMOCRATS ARE IN DISARRAY. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/08/democratic-blues-121561

      This cannot be a partisan issue. I refuse to cast the issue as a partisan issue when the Democrats are on such porous electoral ground. This has to go to the people.

  • Gianni

    Any such attempt to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the list of protected categories/minorities will bring out the right-wing crazies new weapon – the men-using-women’s-bathroom nonsense. They will highlight and emphasize the needed protection of the women and children from all those devious monsters who are just salivating at the prospect of being able to just walk into a ladie’s room unchallenged and ravage and molest every female who walks in. Men claiming to “feel” like women will be legally allowed to use ladies’ rooms all over the state. Utter nonsense, of course, but when the religionista talking heads start incessantly banging that drum, you better believe that passing such an addition to the law will very likely go down in flames.

    • Harry Underwood

      The problem is that most establishment-accessible restrooms are sex-segregated. Most public showers are sex-segregated. Most people have not met openly-trans people in real life, let alone enough trans people to realize that they are not “isolated cases” demographically. Unisex restrooms, showers and other hygiene places are the exception, not the norm, in this country.

      That needs to change.

  • Tami

    They would have to collect over 400,000 to ensure enough valid sigs. That’s a huge task, and I doubt they will be able pull it off. Which is good, because if it goes on the ballot, it’s a sure loser. First, it lumps sexual orientation with gender identity. That’s fatal. Second, if I understand it correctly, it would add private sector non-discrimination protections (which are ordinarily set out in a statute or ordinance) as a constitutional amendment. That’s never been done before, and likely will give the other side all sorts of issues to raise. Half the TV and radio ads will be directed at African-Americans and Latinos, asking why sexual orientation and “gender identity” protections should be enshrined in the state constitution, when the same protections for race, ethnicity and religion are relegated to statute.

  • Terry

    I like this, but wish this didn’t have to be. I hope it does become law and non discrimination protections are enshrined in law