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Congressman Gary Peters is expecting a tough battle as he vies for the U.S. Senate seat that will be left vacant after 36-year-Senator Carl Levin ends his term in 2014. Peters, a Democrat from West Bloomfield, is already crisscrossing the state looking for support. And on Aug. 17 he made a surprise appearance at the Harrisville Equalityfest to talk about equal rights issues and the challenges his campaign faces.
“It’s going to be a long, tough race. There’s going to be a lot of money spent,” he said. “There is a slight Democratic majority in the Senate, about five seats. There are a number of seats that are going to be very difficult to hold… We will be targeted. I will have millions and millions of dollars spent against me from these outside groups that come in, these Super PACs that will come in to try and make sure that there is not a Democrat who wins this U.S. Senate seat.”
So far, Peters’ main opponent seems to be former Secretary of State and former Kent County Clerk Terri Lynn Land, a Republican from Byron Center near Grand Rapids.
Currently Peters represents the 14th Congressional District, which he says has some unique characteristics. “I’ve got an interesting District now that winds through the Greater Detroit Area,” Peters explained. “It’s kind of an example of gerrymandering; in fact the New York Times did a story about the five ugliest Districts in America. My District ranked number four on the list of the five ugliest Districts. But that’s only for the way it was drawn. It really is an incredibly diverse district, one that I’m very proud to represent, that stretches from the city of Pontiac, through West Bloomfield, Farmington Hills, Southfield, into Detroit, all of the Grosse Points, to the Downtown area south of the Ambassador Bridge. It’s a District that brings Oakland County and Wayne County together.”
But regardless of who he represents, Peters sees commonalities. “I find that people all care about the same things. People want good paying jobs. They want to have safe neighborhoods, affordable health care, to be able to retire with dignity,” he said.
“When it comes to LGBT issues… these are issues I fought for, for many, many years. In fact, I was a supporter of marriage equality before it was as popular as it is now. Years and years ago, in fact when I ran for Attorney General in 2002, I was very outspoken in support of marriage equality. And in fact, the number one ad they ran against me was the fact that I supported marriage equality in 2002. I was proud to take that position then, and I’m proud to take that position now. And thank God we’re making headway finally in that.”
Peters is a member of the LGBT Caucus in Congress, and one of the issues he fought for there was the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the military. He served as a Lt. Commander in the Navy and said that when he was there it did not matter what a person’s sexual orientation was, only that they were patriotic and willing to serve their country.
Along the lines of patriotism, Peters said, “When you stand up for the U.S. Consitution, when you stand up for equal rights, that means everybody in this country, not picking and choosing certain individuals. Everybody has equal rights. Bottom line, no exception.”
Watch the video of Peters at Harrisville Equalityfest at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfiiUJcXYUw&feature=youtu.be.