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After 15 months serving as Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s chief of staff, John Burchett is leaving Michigan.
It’s a bittersweet goodbye, as the nation’s first openly gay chief of staff came to our state at a critical moment, leading our governor to a second term in office.
Burchett’s stay was brief, but well-designed.
“I did what I set out to do,” Burchett said. “I came to Lansing to help the governor direct government through what we knew would be a year of great challenge and opportunity.”
And that he did.
There’s no denying Burchett’s role as an openly gay man had a large impact on the state.
“We appointed some of the first openly gay appointees in Michigan history,” he says.
Also, during his time here, the governor issued an executive directive banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in state hiring. The state also changed the way birth certificates are filled out so a same-sex parent could get on the birth certificate.
He also says it wasn’t all proactive work. “We played defense, too. The right wing knew that they could not get anti-gay legislation passed because we would veto it.
“And we did this with a Republican legislature,” he points out.
And this is an understatement. As conservative backlash whipped throughout the state, Burchett remained focused and guided the governor through a tough re-election campaign. During his time in Michigan, he rallied more people to stand up and support our rights from being revoked. He helped gay Michigan residents to take pride in our community and the fundamental rights we deserve. But, more importantly, he gave us a voice.
Now that Granholm safely remains at the helm of Michigan, Burchett knows his job is done.
He leaves a short, but powerful legacy.
We trust Burchett will continue his fierce LGBT activism when he returns to Washington, D.C. There’s so much more work to do, and it’s comforting knowing Burchett will be continuing our fight in the nation’s capital.