BY AJ TRAGER
MICHIGAN – Michigan takes to the polls Nov. 4 to vote for the next local and statewide elected officials. BTL has provided candidate information, a 20-page 2014 Voter’s Guide and has followed the races as they progressed through the election season. All of the interviews and analysis can be found online at https://www.pridesource.com or http://www.mivoterguide.com.
A few hot races to follow this coming Tuesday include those for governor, state attorney general, Michigan’s Supreme Court and the U.S. Senate. Each of the Democratic candidates from these races has come out in support of same-sex marriage and LGBT inclusive policies and has been heavily endorsed by Between The Lines. If the Michigan House shifts from Republican control, it will have a critical impact for LGBT citizens.
Running for governor, Democratic candidate Mark Schauer has been tied in many polls this October with incumbent Rick Snyder. In his first term as governor, Snyder has setback LGBT initiatives and is the named defendant in Michigan’s same-sex marriage equality case. Just this year Snyder allowed the passage of a “rape insurance” bill, adding an insurance clause that requires women to purchase an added package if they want an abortion, regardless of the circumstances that led to the pregnancy. Mark Schauer, on the other hand, would not pursue anti-woman policies like “rape insurance” and has vowed to dismiss the appeal of the DeBoer v Snyder decision made in March by Federal Judge Friedman. He has said he would endorse and push for an amendment to the state’s civil rights act, which would include gender identity and sexual orientation protections.
In a September interview with BTL, Schauer said, “We need to change our state in some pretty profound ways, and the fact that our current governor continues – even after the U.S. Supreme Court decision – to not recognize those 300 couples that were married that day (March 22), many of whom where married by Lisa (Brown, his running mate), is a form of discrimination and insensitivity. But then further, to hear his hollow rhetoric about amending Elliott-Larsen underscores the fact that we need to change. Lisa and I, because of our core values, are about equality, and we will make sure that we sign into law a very strong amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.”
Race For Attorney General
Another Mark on the ticket is Democratic candidate Mark Totten, running for state attorney general. Incumbent Attorney General Bill Schuette has led the state’s appeal of the DeBoer v Snyder decision, something that Totten vows he will dismiss once elected. The latest poll by Clarity Campaign Labs shows the race tied, with Schuette and Totten both sharing 38 percent of the vote with a 3 percent margin of error.
Michigan Supreme Court
The Michigan Supreme Court is the highest court in the state and has a chance to elect Richard Bernstein, an LGBT ally and blind justice. Bernstein walks through life with societal hurdles that he describes as close to the LGBT experience. He has come out in strong favor of LGBT rights. Five candidates are listed for the 8-year-term judicial race.
“There are self-appointed experts who tend to think that they know what is best for everybody. We all have our own stories, and we all have our own experiences, and it really is what makes us who we are. If you talk to a disabled person, or anyone in the circumstances that our communities are in, they’ll say people pre-judge us. We have to work harder to basically do basic things. I have found that to be the case with nearly everything I have done. And I am willing to bet that your constituency goes through the same thing,” Bernstein said in an interview with BTL.
Democratic candidate Gary Peters is running for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Carl Levin, who has served for 35 years. As one of two representatives from the state, Peters, if elected, will have a chance to influence policy on the national stage.
Running in the 11th House District is Democrat Bobby McKenzie, who seeks to prevail over Republican David Trott from the foreclosure team of Trott & Trott. McKenzie is widely regarded as an expert in foreign affairs and says he is a big believer in equality. When asked if he would fight for LGBT equality, McKenzie responded “without question.”
Michigan House of Representatives
The trajectory of the November election changed dramatically in August when each party chose who would be their lead candidates for each race. In the 98th House district, which covers Midland and parts of Bay County, Joan Brausch (D) and Gary Glenn (R) differ immensely on LGBT issues. Glenn is adamant about refusing to allow same-sex marriage and LGBT rights to pass easily in the Michigan legislature. Brausch, on the other hand, has on many occasions come out in support of LGBT rights.
In Lapeer county, the 82nd District, Democrats have a chance to take back the House seat with Marcus Middleton as he is placed contrary to Republican candidate Todd Courser, a tea party activist who believes in the “gay agenda.”
Gays In State House
Democrats seem guaranteed a win with the historically Democratic house seat of the 35th District, which covers Southfield where openly gay candidate, Jeremy Moss, seeks the House seat. He has led Southfield as a City Council member and if elected will be one of the youngest elected officials in Michigan’s history.
Running for the Democrats in the 60th House District of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township is openly gay candidate Jon Hoadley. The seat also appears a guaranteed win for the Democrats, with Hoadley, CEO of the political strategy firm Badlands, hoping to win the seat and keep west Michigan moving forward towards equality.