• Berkley, Michigan City Council. Photo: berkleymich.org

After ‘No’ Vote on Pride Parade, Berkley Community Members Call on Councilman Dennis Hennen to Resign

Despite apology, many residents left unsatisfied

By |2022-06-23T14:05:09-04:00June 23rd, 2022|Michigan, News|

Berkley City Councilman Dennis Hennen faced a standing-room only crowd at Monday’s Council meeting, with many coming out to call upon him to resign. 

Hennen left a lot of Berkley residents bewildered and disappointed at the Council’s June 6 meeting when he was the only councilperson to vote against the Berkley Pride Block Party, scheduled for Sunday, June 26. Prior to casting his vote, Hennen said he was not homophobic because he felt equally “about all kinds of sin.” The remarks did not go over well with those in attendance, or even among his fellow councilmembers. Hennen’s was the lone vote against Pride. 

The backlash was swift, including a Facebook page calling for his resignation and urging city residents to come out to yesterday’s Council meeting to demand it. And they did — en masse. 

Hennen tried to temper the crowd’s anger with a preemptive apology, saying, “I need to learn to speak with more compassion, to reach out to more people when making decisions and keep my religious views separate from government policies. Again, I’m sorry.”

His apology was met with mixed emotions, and not everyone was appeased. 

Former Ferndale City Councilwoman and Ferndale Pride Executive Director Julia Music, whose child goes to Berkley schools, read a letter from her child’s stepmother, Cheryl Collins, a Berkley resident who could not attend the meeting. In her letter, Collins said she would have never voted for Hennen had she known he would “make decisions for our city based on your religion that is discriminatory and bigoted, not only against my child, but our LGBTQ+ citizens of Berkley.”

After reading Collins’ letter, Music went on to speak for herself as a former city councilmember.

“I know you love the City of Berkley,” Music started. “However, the residents who voted for you feel deceived. Resignation tonight would not show weakness. It would show some humility to those who voted for you without the understanding that you would use church to make governmental decisions.”

Despite the outpouring of those calling for it, Hennen did not resign by the end of the meeting. 

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael joined Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.