Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
LANSING – Despite pressing financial woes and an alleged lack of leadership, Michigan Pride in Lansing went off without a noticeable hitch on Saturday, June 30.
A high spirited march kicked off at 1 p.m. as planned, filling the downtown streets with the sounds of a marching band and the revving of a bevy of motorcycles as colorful floats and equally colorful marchers proceeded toward the Capitol. Though there were far fewer marchers than the 15,000 Michigan Pride organizers had earlier predicted – Sgt. Leith Curtis of the Lansing Police Department estimated 2,000, while Steve Benkovsky, director of the Legislative Council Facilities Agency of the Michigan State Capitol said about 2,500-3,000 found their way to the lawn of the Capitol – there was no shortage of ebulliency as the Pride parade rolled into the Capitol to the strains of the disco classic “We Are Family.”
“I don’t remember the state Capitol ever looking as good as it does today,” said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. “You look marvelous. We’re delighted to have you in our city. We’re already the capital of the state, but we want to be more than that. We want to be the capital of mutual respect for all our brothers and sisters … no matter what gender or sexual orientation.”
Bernero told the crowd that the LGBT community is always welcome in his city.
“It’s no secret that cities that are open to gays and lesbians are more prosperous than cities that try to shut them out,” he said. “The Lansing gay community plays a critical role in the rebuilding of our neighborhoods.”
The rally on the Capitol steps was emceed by Lansing City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar, who was humorous but compelling in her remarks.
“My message to anyone who finds homosexuality repulsive, maybe Gary Glenn, is don’t get caught in bed with a man,” she said. “I don’t personally like Lucky Charms. But I don’t begrudge anyone who eats them … and I don’t interpret the Bible to forbid them.”
Joanne Nemecek stood up to show support for her spouse. Nemecek chose to stay with her husband when he revealed he was going to begin living his life as a transgendered woman.
“It was four years ago in November when I felt like a tsunami hit my life,” Nemecek said. “Gradually, after a lot of prayer and soul searching, I was able to say, ‘yes, I’m committed to my marriage. This is the very same person I married. The package may be different, but she’s the same on the inside.'”
Other speakers included Chris Ramazzotti of the LGBT Arab-American group AL-GAMEA, Michelle Brown, who serves on the board of Michigan Equality and the national board of governors for HRC, and Nathan Triplett, who read a proclamation from Gov. Jennifer Granholm declaring June in Michigan as Gay Pride Month.
Following the rally, Pride continued with a festival in Lansing’s Riverfront Park. Dozens of vendors were on hand and live entertainment continued throughout the day.
While there had previously been concerns over un-finalized permits and unpaid bills, there were no noticeable interruptions to the day. However, the current co-chairs of the Michigan Pride board, Kevin Lambrix, who has been living in Atlanta since the fall, and Mike Challis, along with Treasurer Douglas Rainey, have stated their intentions to resign this month. This will, effectively, leave Michigan Pride without a working board, just as some in the community are calling for an audit of the group’s finances.