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LGBT rights campaign vows court fight after petition drive stalls

A sign reads "Inalienable rights are for all Americans" in front of the supreme court. A rainbow flag flies in the background.
Susan Walsh
The bipartisan Board of State Board of State Canvassers voted four-to-zero Monday that the Fair and Equal Michigan petition campaign fell short of required signatures for their petition drive.

The Michigan Court of Appeals is the next stop for the petition campaign to add LTBTQ protections to the state civil rights law. That’s after a bipartisan state board unanimously agreed the Fair and Equal Michigan’s petition drive fell short, largely based on its collection of electronic signatures.

Fair and Equal Michigan wants to get its initiative before the Legislature or onto the 2022 ballot. That effort was stalled by a finding by the state Bureau of Elections that the signature-gathering campaign fell short. That determination was affirmed by a 4-to-zero vote by the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers.

Campaign attorney Steven Liedel wants the state elections bureau to do a recount and include electronic signatures in its random sample.

“The core of our argument is that the signatures can’t be invalidated because they were submitted electronically,” he said.

Liedel says the state already allows electronic signatures for other legal documents and petitions should be no exception. He says the challenge will be filed in 5 to 10 days.

An attorney for an opposing group -- Citizens for Equality, Fairness and Justice – argued a recount based on a new random sample of signatures would be a waste of time because the petition drives deficit is too large to make up.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.