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Effort to get LGBT civil rights protections pressing on after setbacks


A coalition of business and civil rights groups is still optimistic state lawmakers this year will make it illegal to discriminate against LGBT people.

The group has faced a series of setbacks recently. It opposes a new bill in the Legislature because it does not include protections for transgender people. And some members say another new bill meant to protect religious freedoms would make the effort moot.

“It seems like it’s a carve-out for them to continue to discriminate,” said Shelli Weisberg with the ACLU of Michigan. “So we believe that really blows a big hole in the nondiscrimination bill.”

But the coalition recently hired three lobbying firms to try to get an all-inclusive LGBT rights bill passed before the end of the year.

“We’re pretty sure we have the votes in the House and the Senate if leadership will just allow us to have a straight up-or-down vote on an inclusive bill,” said Dave Waymire, a spokesperson for the effort.

He says they are also ready to move forward with a petition drive if lawmakers fail to pass the measure before 2015.

“There may very well be a vote. The question is whether it’s now or maybe early next year when a citizens’ initiative would be put in front of the Legislature,” said Waymire. “It’s a very real possibility and something we think that the legislators need to be aware of as we move forward.”

Some Republican lawmakers worry the measure could infringe on religious freedoms.

Jake Neher is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He covers the State Legislature and other political events in Lansing.
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