By Amy Lynn Smith
With Election Day less than one month away, it’s all-hands-on-deck time. Across Michigan, campaigns are knocking on doors, making phone calls and doing whatever it takes to get out the vote.
Because there’s one thing every single citizen must do: VOTE. There’s too much on the line in this election for people who care about progressive values to stay home.
“When we vote, we win,” says Jan Stevenson, co-publisher of Between The Lines, which produces the Progressive Voter Guide for every election. “It’s absolutely essential that we elect candidates who share our values and who will protect – and further – the progress we’ve made in the LGBTQ community and beyond. The alternative is unthinkable, but by joining forces we can get the kind of election results we want and need.”
Between The Lines originated the guide in 1996. Available online and in print – with a distribution of at least 100,000 by mail and at locations across Michigan – the 2016 Progressive Voter Guide lists key endorsements for candidates who will fight for Progressive values like equality for the LGBTQ community, women and people of color, and who will look after the interests of unions, the environment and more.
For this election, Between The Lines has engaged more progressive organizations than ever in the Progressive Voter Guide. All of the partners recognize the importance of banding together to hold the White House – and win more seats at the federal, state and local level.
“While the presidential race gets plenty of deserved attention, here in Michigan our House of Representatives matters a great deal,” says Stephanie White, executive director of Equality Michigan (Equality Michigan Pride PAC is a partner in the guide). “Our community has seen our basic rights continue to be denied by our state lawmakers in Lansing. But we’ve also seen progress, with over 41 local communities all over the state passing comprehensive nondiscrimination laws when the state and national leaders have failed to act. Think of that if you ever wonder whether voting in the races for the smallest cities and towns matters.”
The goal of the 2016 Progressive Voter Guide is to help Michigan’s citizens navigate the sometimes confusing array of races and candidates, so they can vote with the confidence that they are supporting the right candidates on Election Day. It could not be easier to find candidates who share your values. Just enter your zip code for a list of endorsements from the guide’s progressive partners and more. The online version of the voter guide will be updated daily through Election Day, Nov. 8.
“In terms of the coalition of those of us who are activists for LGBT rights, our partnership shows the importance of local interests by educating voters who may stop just at the top level of candidates rather than going deeper,” says Penny Gardner, president of the Lansing Association for Human Rights PAC (LAHR PAC). “We go all the way down the ballot, practically to dog catcher, and it can help people recognize the importance of voting for candidates endorsed by the coalition, instead of voting for a third-party candidate or not voting at all. We have to show strength in numbers to save this country.”
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan is another partner that understands what’s at stake in this election. According to Libby McGaughey, vice president of Advocacy & Community Education, “For far too long Michigan has been controlled by wealthy special interests that have aligned behind an agenda to stack the deck in their favor, while restricting women’s access to health care, impeding progress on LGBTQ equality, racial and economic justice, and gutting funding for our communities and schools.”
“At Planned Parenthood we continue to strive to understand, highlight and champion an array of issues that have an impact on our patients and communities, including the LBGTQ community,” McGaughey continues. “We have common cause with those who seek what is right and just, and we believe that all people deserve equality, respect, access and opportunity. It is through collaborations like the Progressive Voter Guide that we can amplify our voice around the shared values of our progressive partners and work together to put elected officials in office who share those values.”
The pursuit of equality, justice and fairness is something all of the partners in the 2016 Progressive Voter Guide believe in:
Between The Lines
Eclectablog.com (media partner)
Equality Michigan Pride PAC
Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality (KAFE)
Lansing Association for Human Rights PAC (LAHR PAC)
Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO
Oakland/Macomb County National Organization for Women (NOW)
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
The LGBT and Allies Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party
It’s worth noting that the 2016 Progressive Voter Guide not only lists candidates who will fight for progressive values, but also identifies those who are actively anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice and anti-union, or would otherwise seek to trample the rights of Americans if elected.
White points out that although Equality Michigan Pride PAC did not ultimately endorse any Republican candidates in this election, she was impressed with the quality and quantity of responses to their questionnaire from candidates who aren’t Democrats. Several took a pro-LGBTQ stand on portions of the questionnaire, a sign of the community’s progress in building its relevance in the political process.
Promising progress aside, this is no time to be complacent. Be sure to review the 2016 Progressive Voter Guide to find the candidates who will make Michigan – and the United States – a better place for everyone. Then get out there and vote. The country’s future depends on it.