Snyder On Attracting LGBT Families To Michigan: ‘A Fine Act’

By | 2013-08-08T09:00:00-04:00 August 8th, 2013|Michigan, News|

If the State legislature were to make moves to make Michigan more attractive to LGBT families, it would be “a fine act” as far as Governor Rick Snyder is concerned.
The comment came at a press conference following his speech at The Macomb County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner July 29, when the Governor was asked, “From a business perspective, a lot of businesses have embraced the LGBT community and policies of equality and diversity, and the state hasn’t done that. Do you see with polls changing more in that favor, that the state might do more to promote equality and encourage LGBT families to move here?”
“Well I think I would actually cite one of my partners Speaker [Jase] Bolger talked about, again that’s an issue that the legislature could have a rational discussion about at some point in the future. And if they want to do that, I think that’s a fine act to take,” said Snyder.
The response has not exactly given the LGBT community the warm and fuzzies, given his administration’s history of harm. In 2011 Snyder signed into law a bill that took away domestic partner benefits from state employees, undercutting families that had already been depending on healthcare from their partners. The legislation has since been stayed by the courts and Attorney General Bill Schuette is continuing to fight to make sure gay partners cannot be covered.
Snyder and Schuette are also fighting a Hazel Park couple that has sued the state for second parent adoption rights and also the right to marry. In the ongoing legal battle, the state has failed to acknowledge that the two women and their children constitute one family.
He deferred the action to the legislature, rather than addressing his own part in the lawsuits which have stalled and blocked LGBT rights. However, the “fine act” part of his quote does give hope that if legislation moves forward in support of LGBT equality, he’d support it.
Snyder also invoked his political colleague Jase Bolger, who is among Republicans who are considering a discussion on amending the state’s Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. On June 13, State House Speaker Jase Bolger told WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record” that, “We ought to respect somebody if they’re gay. We shouldn’t discriminate against people. On the same point, we ought to respect people who have deeply held religious beliefs, and we shouldn’t discriminate against them. And we shouldn’t force them to violate their deeply held religious belief.”
The trend of Republicans being more open to equality is a growing one. In a previous report, Is There Room For The ‘R’ In LGBT, Between The Lines noted progress in the party. It includes more Republican LGBT people, the revelation of former Attorney General Mike Cox that he’d have “no problem with the legislature creating a vehicle for same-sex marriage,” and the fact that polling continues to trend in favor of equality even among Republicans.
Shortly after, the discussion of bi-partisan support for amending the state’s Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act has begun to emerge. In an interview with State Rep. Frank Foster (R-Petoskey), Foster told BTL, “Even before we looked at any public polling, I felt like the support for an initiative like this was strong, and the numbers I’ve seen since then only seem to confirm that.”
The changing attitude of Republicans isn’t going unnoticed by LGBT leaders who are working to secure support across the aisle for an inclusive non-discrimination policy statewide.
Emily Dievendorf of Equality Michigan responded to Snyder’s comments saying, “An overwhelming majority of Michigan voters, regardless of political affiliation, agree with Gov. Snyder that the time has come for a discussion on ending the legally permitted firing of LGBT workers in Michigan. We can only move forward as we finally step up and acknowledge that for Michigan to fully recover, fairness needs to be offered to all people in Michigan. This is an opportunity for the Governor to lead a bipartisan effort addressing a growing threat to our economy and families by amending Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include equal protections for LGBT workers and families.”

About the Author: