What a strange time it is for LGBT Michiganders.
As we watch the nation’s LGBT activists and leaders cry out, enraged at President Barack Obama, we also see several small – yet noticeable – changes in our own state’s politics and possibilities when it comes to our issues.
The Obama Administration’s recent championing of the Defense of Marriage Act set off alarms for many in the LGBT community. The support came in a brief released by the Department of Justice that called DOMA “constitutional” and suggested that giving benefits to same-sex married couples would infringe on the rights of taxpayers in the 30 states that prohibit gay marriage.
DOJ spokespeople claim that the brief doesn’t mean a change in Obama’s stance, who ran on the promise of repealing DOMA. Instead, they say it’s only the standard practice of upholding an existing law.
Community leaders, however, call it simple hypocracy. Obama has let us down. The administration that we thought was our friend is hardly any different than every anti-gay White House before it.
Obama. Lied. To. Us.
Certainly, it seems that way when reading the brief, which has been called “shocking” and “disgusting” by LGBT people across the nation. Only time will tell, but meanwhile, we cannot sit idly by with our fingers crossed. We must demand action from Obama, as it seems his LGBT-friendly promises are no longer enough to pacify a community that is starving for change and hurting for rights.
Moreover, we must engage ourselves in national fights for LGBT rights, be it through phone calls to our senators or a trip to Washington, D.C. in October for yet another March on Washington.
But meanwhile, we must also focus our efforts on local endeavors, as it seems the ball is finally rolling – and fast – for LGBT equality in Michigan.
A recent poll released June 7 exclusively by the Detroit Free Press showed a significant change in attitudes toward same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues in Michigan. The poll, conducted by the Glengariff Group of Chicago, showed a considerable increase in support for many gay issues, including a jump to 46.5 percent support of same-sex marriages. In 2004, Proposal 2 was approved 58 percent to 42 percent.
Then, on June 12, Rep. Pam Byrnes (D-Lyndon Township) announced that she will be introducing legislation into the Michigan House of Representatives to put the repeal of 2004’s Proposal 2 on the ballot for 2010. If the measure passes both the House and Senate and is approved by voters, it will undo the ban on same-sex marriage in the state.
It’s a bold move – but not impossible. It seems that in the month of Pride, with the combination of uplifting events and similarly positive statistics, the LGBT movement in Michigan is energized.
With the release of the DOJ brief and Obama’s support of DOMA, however, the nation’s LGBT community feels defeated and duped.
How do we reconcile the two? How should we feel? Who should we trust? Can we expect Rep. Pam Byrnes’ cries for marriage equality to mean about as much as Obama’s promises of the same sort?
Politics are a tricky subject. But family is not. Who we can and must trust at this time, whether hurting or soaring, is ourselves. We are the ones who will create this change, not words and promises from politicians. These assurances only go as far as we make them go. If we don’t want equality, the politicians we choose to support won’t want it either.