A coalition of business executives, political activists, and nonprofit leaders is launching a campaign in Michigan to initiate legislation that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.The group, which calls itself Fair and Equal Michigan, hopes to collect enough valid signatures by the end of May. That would be just over 340-thousand. If the campaign gathers enough valid signatures, it would first go before the state Legislature. If legislative leaders decline to vote on it or approve it, the initiative would go before voters.

Supporters of the new campaign include the leaders of Dow, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy as well as Tim Cook, chief executive of California-based Apple.The citizen-initiated ballot measure seeks an expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, a 1976 law that already bars discrimination based on religion, race, age, sex and other attributes. The expansion has been debated for years in the state Capitol, with Republican legislative leaders saying they wanted to ban discrimination, but only as long as it would not infringe on religious rights.

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