I am writing in response to your editorial of BTL: Feb. 26 regarding whether the proposed anti-bullying legislation, known as “Matt’s Law”, should contain enumeration. In apparent contrast to the expressed sentiments of your editorial and that of others in Michigan’s LGBT movement, I believe that the enactment of such legislation, even without enumeration, should proceed without delay and would be a positive and reasonable attainment for our community.
As stated in your editorial, more than enough time has passed without enactment of this legislation. Any further delay would not only be a disservice to the LGBT youth that you champion, but also to the children and families of Michigan, in general. However, I believe it to be naive and short-sighted for our community’s support of Matt’s Law to be absolutely conditioned on the inclusion of enumerations. I may be an outsider to the legislative process in Lansing, but I trust those who toil there on a daily basis when they say that such a bill would not pass this Legislature, nor any in the foreseeable future. Moreover, we presently have a Governor who is favorable to our cause, which cannot be assured in two years. Finally, such intransigence within our community not only continues to harm our youth in real and concrete ways, but further continues to play into the hands of those who oppose our rights at every turn, as well as promoting the more general perception that we, as a movement, are unable to coalesce around common goals.
In a state where it is still a felony, punishable by imprisonment, to make love to my partner and where it is expressly written into our Constitution that I will never be able to marry him, the LGBT community needs to grasp such realities, climb off of its lofty, idealistic horse and recognize a victory when it is within our grasp. As indicated by Bernadette Brown of Triangle in last week’s column, the proposed bill without enumeration continues to provide protections for LGBT youth, but that the burden would be placed upon all of us to insist that our local school boards enact protective, anti-bullying policies. To support this compromise legislation is progress rather than capitulation. In my opinion, true strength of conviction would come from being able to approach our community school boards armed with such a Matt’s Law and demanding local policy changes instead of simply continuing to engage in theoretical, unrealistic and unproductive rhetoric.
Mark W. LaChey
Pleasant Ridge, Michigan