By Sean Kosofsky
It is time to look back on the first two and a half years of the Granholm administration and give her a report card. There is much to report and I think most people will be very pleased.
No one has worked more closely on GLBT issues in the Granholm administration than I. Triangle Foundation and our many supporters statewide have worked aggressively to make sure that the State of Michigan, under this administration, makes good on the promise of serving GLBT Michiganians taxpayers.
First, her Pride PAC questionnaire was excellent and she was surrounded by GLBT campaign workers making sure she was present at all the right events. After winning, Granholm filled her administration with influential GLBT staff, department heads and other high level appointments. She kicked off her administration with an invitation to an openly gay dad, Julio Vasquez, to be visible at the First Man’s Forum as part of her inaugural festivities. She brought with her a tone and tenor of inclusion, progressive values, GLBT friends and a reputation of being supportive of our rights in the Attorney General’s office.
She became the first sitting governor to visit a GLBT event, the Triangle Foundation annual dinner. She set a tone of acceptance and inclusion in state government that allowed more state employees to come out of the closet and dare to ask for the same treatment as heterosexual employees with families. Some employees even began asking if they could attend GLBT conferences and other special events.
The relationships Triangle had over the years paid off because many GLBT allies were now part of the Granholm administration. We could get meetings with department heads quickly and some departments, such as the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, even appointed a liaison to the GLBT community and asked Triangle Foundation to train their entire staff. The State Police and the Department of Corrections were quick to listen to our concerns and look for ways to better serve our community. Other departments followed.
The Governor banned anti-GLB discrimination in state employment with an executive order and worked with the Civil Service Commission to implement the rules for all executive branch employees. She defended her executive order when Attorney General Mike Cox and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land said it didn’t apply to them. Granholm won that match.
She appointed the first-ever openly gay judge, Rudy Serra, who happened to be a former Triangle board member. We made positive changes in several state departments and helped achieve nearly twenty openly GLBT appointees to commissions and boards. Her Office of Children’s Ombudsman came out with a report supporting adoptions between unmarried partners. She has proclaimed June to be GLBT Pride Month three years in a row and was a solid opponent of Proposal 2 last year.
Few candidates are perfect, but if you ask me, she has been a breath of fresh air. We need to keep lobbying her on marriage equality, but folks should not be fooled into thinking Governor Granholm has been retreating on our issues. I see the opposite. I see an administration gaining momentum, that hit a speed bump on marriage. The road trip to a better state government continues and GLBT folks need to keep their eyes on the prize.
As the campaign for Governor heats up, look for GLBT issues to be front and center in the debate. Our goal should be to make our lives and our families a non-partisan issue. We have had great success under Governor Granholm. Not bad for a heterosexual, church-going, Catholic mom that has to cut deals each day, with people who think we are all going to hell.