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CITY PULSE: AFA-MI to Lead Petition Drive to Defeat "Gay Rights" Ordinance

January 17, 2007

Lansing, Michigan – January 17, 2007

One clock expires for opponents of Lansing human rights ordinance
Opposition can launch petition drive at any time, but with different rules.
by Benjamin Ray

Supporters of Lansing’s new human rights ordinance will be happy to know that the petition drive to get it overturned never happened.

They may be a little less happy to know that it still could happen.

The Lansing City Council approved a measure Dec. 18 that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, religion and legal source of income, among other things.

Lansing voters overturned a similar ordinance in 1996.

Opponents, led by the American Family Association of Michigan, had 30 days to collect 4,371 signatures from Lansing voters to overturn the new ordinance. The law would have been suspended until Aug. 7, when the issue would have been brought before Lansing voters.

But that won’t happen unless the AFA actually starts a petition drive. According to the city charter, opponents will need to collect 4,371 signatures within a 90-day span, and can start the clock whenever they want.

However, if they are successful in collecting the signatures, the law would remain on the books pending a vote of the public.

“It was obvious that the City Council hoped to stack the deck by forcing opponents of this discriminatory ordinance to conduct a petition drive during the Christmas holiday,� AFA-Michigan President Gary Glenn said Tuesday.

Glenn did not say if the AFA would attempt to restart the process.

Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar said the Council deliberately approved the ordinance during the holidays to make it difficult to collect signatures.

She said the failure to get the petition off the ground is good news.

“I kind of figured that they weren’t going to get the signatures even if they tried,� she said. “I think voters are more savvy this time.�

You can read the City Pulse article here.

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