In a Sept. 27 op-ed in the Detroit News, conservative Republican columnist Nolan Finley raised serious concerns about three Republican candidates running for the state house Nov. 4. Todd Courser of Lapeer, Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell and Gary Glenn of Midland — all correctly identified by Finley as a “trio (who) seeks tea party tyranny.”
Nolan describes Glenn and Courser as “extremely anti-gay and (who) would turn the Republican Party into a fundamentalist denomination of the Christian Church if given the chance.” Finley warned that the trio’s narrow views on the Legislature could cripple the government and its ability to work across the aisle to move the state forward. Their agenda also includes killing any expansion of the Elliot-Larsen act to include LGBT protections.
In an Oct. 21 article “Glenn answers Detroit News column,” Midland Daily News reporter John Kennett asked Glenn to respond to a number of things Finley accused him of, including the charge of being extremely anti-gay. Glenn responded to MDN via email. In question 5, Kennett wrote, “Are you a ‘homophobic bigot’ who hates gays as suggested by others?”
“Such pejorative and prejudiced name-calling, whoever’s guilty of it, demonstrates an attitude of intolerance toward the majority of voters in Bay and Midland counties who believe marriage should remain legally defined as a union of one man and one woman. As Americans, we’re all guaranteed equal rights as individuals, not as part of any particular group. People are free to live their lives however they choose, but they don’t have the right to redefine marriage or to force taxpayers to subsidize beliefs with which they disagree,” Glenn wrote.
Unfortunately, the reporter did not ask any follow-up questions, which could have shed light on Glenn’s extensive anti-gay activities during the past 14 years. Glenn employed plenty of pejorative and prejudiced language of his own toward LGBT people. Researching Glenn’s history, one does not have to search the Internet for long before statements made by him, about LGBT people, are found.
Sending A Message
On Oct. 22, Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) writer Craig Mauger covered the candidates for Michigan’s 98th District House race. In an article titled, “LGBT Community Aims To Send ‘Message’ In Race Against Glenn,” Mark LaChey, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party’s LGBT and Allies Caucus, discussed the commitment and fundraising effort supporting Democratic candidate Joan Brausch, through its Gays Against Gary Glenn project. The long history of Glenn’s blatant public assault on LGBT Michiganders, which began in 2000 when he resuscitated the Michigan chapter of the American Family Association, is why Glenn gets all the attention.
Since taking the helm of the organization, Glenn has intentionally misrepresented the LGBT community and used intimidation tactics with local city officials who were considering non-discrimination ordinances protecting LGBT community members. Glenn regularly threatened officials with retaliation at the voting booth and offered funding of any candidates that would run against the LGBT community’s “agenda.” Glenn attended local city council meetings across the state, threatening them with ballot initiatives if city officials did not stop considering non-discrimination ordinances protecting their local LGBT community.
Long Anti-Gay Crusade
Glenn began his anti-gay crusade in the state 14 years ago. In a press release from 2001 he wrote, “Under homosexual activists’ political agenda, our children would face a future in which traditional marriage and families have been legally devalued, while state government — despite the severe threat it poses to personal and public health — not only legally endorses but uses our tax dollars to subsidize deadly homosexual behavior.”
Much of what Glenn has said about LGBT people is misleading and factually erroneous. Although social scientists have long disproven the AFA information, Glenn has failed to amend his message.
As the president of Michigan AFA, he promotes the work of its parent organization, which was labeled a hate group in 2005 by the Southern Poverty Law Center. SPLC said the group is known for the “propagation of known falsehoods” and the “demonizing propaganda” against LGBT people. Many of these falsehoods and pseudo-science can be found documented in a Michigan AFA Amicus brief filed in the DeBoer v Snyder case currently under review in the 6th Circuit Federal Court, where the state’s marriage equality ruling is expected shortly. Glenn coauthored the Michigan Marriage Act of 2004, which was declared unconstitutional by U.S. Federal Judge Friedman in March.
Glenn also concurred with Peter Sprigg of the SPLC hate group, Family Research Council, when Sprigg said homosexuality should be criminalized.
The AFA bills itself as being on the front lines of the culture war. The AFA Director of Issues Analysis, Bryan Fisher, had this to say: “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”
Fisher has called for an “underground railroad” to usher children away from lesbian and gay parents and has compared making the criminalization of LGBT people with bans on murder, stealing, child molestation and prostitution. Glenn has denounced none of this screed.
Glenn has stated that he will “faithfully provide representation and constituent service to all residents of the 98th District regardless of party affiliation,” but has been so active in his public dislike of the LGBT community that it is impossible to take him at his word.
Many in the Midland community are worried about Glenn serving in the Statehouse and the message it sends about the region. In a letter to the editor, Jen Rapanos of Midland submitted her thoughts to the Midland Daily News, “…Glenn and the American Family Association have continued to expand their efforts to condemn and insult individuals in the LGBT community across Michigan while actively working towards denying their rights as human beings. Our community is at a real crossroads — the person who is elected to the state House this November will have far-reaching consequences. Do we sit idly by and allow a person with an inflexible agenda of intolerance change what our community has always exemplified? Regardless of what political party individuals align with, I am hopeful that Midland will send a strong message that nevertheless we are an inclusive community that supports all families, all children and all individuals!”
So is Gary Glenn a homophobic bigot? BTL has a hard time concluding otherwise. LaChey offers these thoughts.
“Gary Glenn has a lengthy history of anti-LGBT advocacy across Michigan which cannot be disputed, even by him,” LaChey said. “Whether that qualifies Gary Glenn as an ‘homophobic bigot’ is a matter of personal opinion. But it bears noting that by focusing his rebuke on marriage equality, Gary Glenn chose to ignore the broader and probably more impactful issues of adding LGBT protections to Michigan’s non-discrimination and hate crimes statutes. Both of which are generally recognized as being acceptable to the majority of Michiganders, presumably including those residing in Midland and Bay Counties.”
On his Facebook page, Glenn warns Midland constituents that Brausch was a local spokesperson for the Occupy Wall Street Movement, a people powered movement that began in 2011 and fights back against big corporations, while being the voice for minimum wage workers. Glenn asked voters to “do their part” and make sure Brausch is not elected into office: “Will complacency among Republicans, conservatives and TEA Party activists allow Democrats to elect the local spokesperson for Occupy Wall Street as our next state representative for Bay and Midland counties?”
For her part, Brausch says she will not run an attack campaign. In a Sept. 24 MLIVE story she said, “I have no intention of attacking Gary. I’m going to spend my campaign telling people who I am. The purpose of the next eight weeks is to let people know who I am and what I’m about. And the things that I want to go to Lansing to do.”
Funds being raised for Gays Against Gary Glenn are being directed to Friends of Joan Brausch. There are no plans to use the money to run negative ads about Glenn.