LANSING – Michigan Equality, with partners the ACLU of Michigan and Triangle Foundation, are teaming up with a dozen local organizations to raise awareness about the recent Michigan Court of Appeals ruling about domestic partner benefits.
The tour begins May 7 at Central Michigan University, and will swing as far north as Marquette, and as far south as St. Joseph.
“We are pushing the issue into the public and asking people to get involved,” says Derek Smiertka, executive director of Michigan Equality. “There are a hundred things individuals can do to say ‘we won’t watch our rights being eroded.'”
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled last year that public employers offering domestic partner benefits violated a Constitutional amendment barring gay marriage, or “any union for similar purposes.” The ruling ordered public employers to immediately terminate their contractual agreements providing benefits.
The ruling came in a case filed by the ACLU of Michigan against the state on behalf of several same sex partners employed by public employers like the University of Michigan. An Ingham County circuit judge found in favor of the ACLU,. Attorney General Mike Cox appealed that decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals and won.
Smiertka says the organization has organized the event with a $25,000 grant from the Arcus Foundation. Each event will be sponsored by local groups, including Lansing Association for Human Rights in Lansing, Perceptions of Saginaw/Midland, WRAP, KAFE and Safe Place at CMU and Michigan Tech. He says the partnerships are important to bringing local people out to interface with the statewide activities and focuses.
Lorraine Hampton, president of the P-FLAG Jackson chapter, says the event is important for her community.
“After the passage of Proposal 2 several years ago, the people working on the Jackson ordinance and all those things have gone off hiding in their corners,” she says. “I am hoping this (event) will rekindle all that (activism).”
The event will also include a rally on May 22 at the capitol.
Central Michigan University
UC Auditorium on the campus
402 E. Michigan Avenue
Immanuel Lutheran Church
1505 West Michigan Avenue
Kerrytown Concernt House
415 North 4th Avenue
Metropolitian Community Church
505 Shiawassee St.
Affirmations Community Center
290 West 9 Mile
St. John’s Episcopal Church
123 N. Michigan Ave.
YMCA Out and Affirmation Center
508 Pleasant St.
Marquette Unitarian Universalist Church
1528 M-28 East
206 South Oak Street