As the world continues to learn more about coronavirus and its spread, it's vital to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. However, it's also important to make sure that the information being distributed is from credible sources. To that end, Between The Lines has compiled, [...]
Our community scored last Wednesday with the passage of Matt’s Safe Schools Law from the state House.
But the ugly way in which the bill got out of the House is another symptom of a dysfunctional leadership. That leadership, as we detail in this issue, is unable to create, work with and maintain coalitions to the best advantage of our community. Instead, those coalitions are marred with jealousy, territorial battles, petty gossip and a lack of political savvy.
We also had to contend with supposed friends in the Democratic caucus, men and women who owe their election and control of the House in part to the LBGT community. At least 18 democrats would not have voted for an earlier version of the law if it had enumeration, or protected classes, spelled out in it. They feared they would lose their seats if they were seen to support LBGT issues.
And when we allow our organizations to kick the media out of meetings, we damage ourselves. As a result of that action last Wednesday in Lansing, numerous media outlets missed the floor debate. In fact, the only reporter present in the House gallery other than BTL was the Lansing State Journal. As a result, the bigoted lectures from those opposed to the legislation were lost, and Rep. John Stahl got away with his outrageous remarks about evolution and bullying. So did several other state reps.
This was a mistake. We lose or win our battles not only in the day to day contact we make amongst ourselves and within our communities, but in the media. When we tell the media to leave, we in effect tell them there is no story.
When we work as a strong coalition in partnership with our allies, such as education, we have the muscle to flex and challenge these supposed friends. But when we try the one-man-band approach, with various groups representing themselves and their memberships, we damage not only ourselves, but our community’s voice at the capitol.
In short, we are weakening ourselves. Our in-fighting, and perpetual battles between and amongst our organizations are damaging our credibility and our ability to be a formidable presence in Lansing.
It is time that our political operations in Lansing change.
The current models are not functioning for us. We must continue to reach out and gather our allies, but more importantly we need to bring them to the table, listen and follow their advice, and put them out front pushing, arguing and supporting our issues. We must stop seeing ourselves as Michigan Equality or Triangle Foundation or any other group, and instead see ourselves as the LBGTA community with a clear strategic agenda.
Let us not forget that our organizations are representations of the community, and that when we allow ourselves to be cut in half based on organizational affiliation, we damage not only ourselves, but our entire movement.
It is time for LGBT political operations in Lansing to change into a politically savvy and functional operation, able to change direction on a dime, pull our partners to the table, and most importantly to flex our collective political muscle as one.