DETROIT – On Sunday, Michigan’s senior U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) toured the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park, the nationally recognized youth services and healthcare facility that targets the needs of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.
Later that afternoon she met with dozens of LGBTQ donors at a reception in Detroit. Both events were organized by Mark LaChey, chair, and Roland Leggett, vice-chair, of the LGBT and Allies Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party. Leggett also serves on the board of REC.
Leading the REC tour was executive director Jerry Peterson, director of development and advancement, Mark Erwin-McCormick, board chair Sabrina Gujral and former board chair and co-founder John Allen. Stabenow was engaged, asking lots of questions about the center, its programs, mission and plans for the future. At the end of the tour she sat down with the leadership team for a robust conversation about their plans to build a 45-unit housing facility for homeless LGBTQ youth in Detroit.
The donor event later that day for Stabenow’s re-election campaign was at the riverside condo of David Lilly. Despite fighting a cold that left her almost voiceless, Stabenow told attendees she appreciates – and urgently needs – their strong support in her 2018 bid for a fourth term in the Senate.
David Lilly, left, opened his beautiful Detroit riverside condo to almost 50 LGBTQ donors to the Stabenow reelection campaign. Pictured are Lilly, Stabenow, Susan Grettenberger, vice-chair, and Mark LaChey, chair, of the LGBT and Allies Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party. BTL Photo: Jan Stevenson
“Steve Bannon has identified me as one of four Democratic Senators he wants to take out in 2018,” Stabenow said, referring to the former White House senior advisor and Breitbart News Network mogul who recently “declared war” on any politician who does not support President Trump’s legislative agenda.
Stabenow was crystal clear that Trump’s agenda is nothing she could ever support. “Healthcare is a big issue for me, and has been since the beginning of my career,” she said. “He wants to dismantle the whole healthcare system. Democrats believe healthcare is a basic right, the Republicans think it’s a privilege.”
She said that on Nov. 4, right after the election, she expected Republicans to move quickly to repeal Obamacare, cut taxes, and pass a myriad of legislation advancing conservative social issues. But, she said, the solidity of the Democratic congressional caucus and the strong reaction from the public thwarted Trump’s effort to deliver on his promise to repeal Obamacare.
“Some think that writing letters, calling legislators and visiting their offices doesn’t make a difference. Nothing is further from the truth. It was all those voices that stopped the Obamacare repeals. That’s what we have to keep doing on all the issues.”
Stabenow said she understands how scary it must be for LGBTQ community members under the Trump administration. “I get it. I and the rest of the Democratic caucus are committed to staying unified in our protests to his administrative actions, and the legislative moves by Republicans in Congress, and to keep LGBTQ progress moving forward, not backward.”
Stabenow said, though, it is not easy because Democrats are in the minority and therefore cannot set a legislative agenda. She stressed that the only thing that will influence Republicans to move away from Trump is if they see tangible loses, such as losing seats in the 2018 mid-term election. “Nobody likes Trump on the Hill, but the Republicans are afraid of him. But if they lose seats, they will run from him as fast as they can,” she said.