August primaries a much-overlooked opportunity to enact change

BTL Staff
By | 2018-01-16T06:51:46-04:00 July 31st, 2008|Uncategorized|

The primaries are coming up on Aug, 5, and no one seems to care. But they should.
Everyone knows what Nov. 4 is this year, and has probably already picked their candidate for at least the presidential election. Recent polls showed that 60 percent of LGBT adults favor presumptive democratic nominee Barack Obama, while only 14 percent favor John McCain. It appears that most voters have already made up their minds and are closely following the November 4 races.
While the outcome of the general elections is extremely important for our country, it’s not the only one that matters. In fact, though they lack the glitz and glamour (and nationally-broadcasted commercials), the primaries could actually have a more profound effect in our day-to-day lives.
Think of it this way: Who decides how you pay your taxes? Who decides what developments will happen in your downtown area? Who decides if gay, lesbian or transgender people will be protected from discrimination in your city? For the most part, it won’t be the president – and certainly not Sens. Barack Obama or John McCain, both of whom believe that many powers should be left to state and local governments.
Knowing that, isn’t it important to have a local government that has your best interests in mind?
Sure, it’s important to elect national officials who fight for the right things and live up to their promises. But local politicians have a more profound and instantaneous impact on how and where we live.
Local politicians are the ones who are currently fighting for and against human rights ordinances in Hamtramck and Kalamazoo. Politicians like Ann Arbor’s Sandi Smith, who is running for City Council, will be the ones who push forward on issues like green development and regional transportation.
But what does all of this have to do with the primaries, you ask?
Just as an example, there are 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives. By the time the general elections roll around, there will be approximately 20 of those seats still in play. The primaries do more than just decide who will be in the general election for each party. In highly one-party-driven cities like Detroit or Grand Rapids, the winner of the primaries is often the winner of the election. Knowing that, it’s important not to leave the general election candidates to chance.
We want positive change in Michigan and the nation, especially for LGBT rights, but the difference is that we’re having a harder time making those changes happen here in our state. One strong step is to elect officials in the Senate, House and local governments who will best represent our interests. Many of those officials have already been endorsed by PridePAC and M.E.P.A.C. Between The Lines urges you to vote in the primaries for such candidates as Sen. Martha Scott (D), who is running against Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick in Detroit, and Mark Schauer (D), who will try to oust Rep. Nick Smith in the general election, a notorious enemy of the LGBT community. Make Aug. 5 as much a priority as Nov. 4, pay attention to who you’re voting for and do your research. The payoff will be seen in the years to come as we watch Michigan recover and flourish.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.