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Big Wins, Some Losses for LGBTQ Community in 2018 Michigan Primary

BTL Staff
By | 2018-09-27T13:15:05+00:00 August 10th, 2018|Election, Election 2018, News, Statewide Races|

Last Tuesday’s election brought some great wins for the LGBTQ community, most notably for State Rep. (D) Jeremy Moss who won with over 50 percent of the popular vote (25,712 votes) according to Ballotpedia.

“It’s been a wild ride so far, just to come from being the youngest ever member of the city council of Southfield to becoming only the second openly gay member of the Michigan House, to (the path to) becoming the first openly gay member of the Michigan State Senate — I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received,” Moss said. “And it’s especially meaningful to be able to represent very large LGBT populations in Pleasant Ridge and Ferndale, to make sure that those people, who I really already represented in some way focusing on our issues in the Michigan House, now I actually get to be their elected voice in the legislature. So, it’s very meaningful to me.”

Moss said that if elected, he’ll make transparency one of his biggest priorities.

“I think first and foremost, I’ve been leading the government charge on transparency because Michigan ranks dead last out of all state governments in terms of ethics and accountability,” Moss said.  “So, I drafted 10 bills in the Michigan House that would expand government transparency and allow Michigan residents better access to how our governments work and allow them to vet those records and see if their elected officials are actually acting in their best interests. And those 10 bills passed in the state house unanimously. But, for more than a year, got stalled in the state senate. So that’s why I’m running for the state senate, to finish the job.”

But of course, LGBTQ issues are definitely not on the backburner for Moss. He said that the expansion of the Elliott-Larsen civil rights act will be another top priority as well, something that he feels needs advocacy, especially in the Senate.

“And I would bet you my last dollar that if that bill was put up to expand civil rights to the LGBTQ community in the house it would pass. I think there are certainly enough democratic votes and enough Republican votes to pass it through the House,” Moss said. “However, the state senate is a further reach. So, to bring LGBTQ representation for the first time to the state Senate pushes our issues even further in the Michigan legislature. It’s been significant to not just be a voice for the LGBTQ community in the state House, but to show up day in and day out, and to show my colleagues who don’t care or think about LGBTQ issues to know somebody that this would impact, who is me, their colleague. To bring that to the state Senate goes a lot further than one would think. Just by being there, you’re making sure that you’re at the table and not on the menu.”

And the election turned out well for several other LGBTQ candidates who ran unopposed. They are Garnet Lewis (District 26), Jon Hoadley (District 60), Tim Sneller (District 50), Jason Morgan (District 8) and Ryan Sebolt (District 2).  Katie Scott, who ran as an out candidate for Washtenaw County Commission in District 9, ousted a 14-year incumbent and won every precinct in her district making her the first lesbian elected to the board.
“My message was a solid Democratic platform and it resonated voters,” she said. “People who voted for me in Ann Arbor knew I not only stood for pro-choice, pro-women, pro-LGBTQ issues, but also that I will also stand for working people and families every day I serve them in office.”
However, there were some losses for the LGBTQ community.
Brian Stone, who lost to Sam Baydoun in District 13, received 6,526 votes.
“I’m very proud of my team for the work they did,” said Stone, noting that the average turnout in this kind of Democratic primary is approximately 12,400 votes. “Our ‘win’ goal was 6,250 votes and I’m proud of my team for hitting our target on a shoestring budget. With absentee votes counted, it also appears that I won the majority of the precincts in the district and well over 60 percent of the absentee vote.”
Stone said when Abdul El-Sayed drove record turnout in Dearborn, thousands of new voters showed up to vote for someone of the same faith and background as themselves.
“This spilled over into my race and so in precincts where 240 to 300 people would normally vote, more than 800 persons appeared and the vast majority that voted for county commission voted for my opponent. So, even though it looks like I really got my butt kicked, the truth is that we earned enough votes to win in a normal election year, but the governor’s race created conditions way out of my control. We did what we needed to do to win, but it just wasn’t enough in the end.”
There weren’t enough votes for some other LGBTQ candidates as well including Ricardo White (District 6), Robert VanKirk (District 77), Jacob Johnson (District 16) and Scott Urbanowski (District 12).
“I am incredibly grateful for every vote my team and I earned during the election,” said White, who received 776 votes.
“We worked very hard and just came up short,” he said.  “I believe lots of factors were at play in this race however I don’t think me being pro-Equality was an issue. People were just looking for something different than my candidacy. I have learned a lot and will continue all I can to ensure Democrats are elected this November.”
Also supporting pro-equality candidates as they advance to the November general election is the Human Rights Campaign. The organization released on Wednesday the following statement to celebrate the victories of some pro-equality candidates: Senator Debbie Stabenow, Rep. Dan Kildee, Gretchen Driskell, Elissa Slotkin, Rep. Debbie Dingell and Rep. Brenda Lawrence for United States Congress; State Rep. Moss; and Jennifer Suidan for Michigan State House.
“HRC is proud to support and work on behalf of Michigan’s pro-equality champions in these crucial races up and down the ballot,” said HRC Michigan State Director Amritha Venkataraman. “The stakes in November could not be clearer. Candidates like Bill Schuette, who’ve sought to roll back the clock and enshrine discrimination into state law, are out of touch with the majority of Michiganders who believe in equality, fairness and justice. In the coming weeks, HRC will continue mobilizing more than one million Equality Voters and tens of thousands of members and supporters in the state to turn out for candidates who will move our state forward and ensure that an extremist like Schuette never sets foot in the governor’s mansion.”
In Michigan, HRC has identified more than 1.1 million Michiganians as likely “Equality Voters” – voters who support LGBTQ-inclusive policies. HRC has prioritized investments and organizing in Michigan in the 2018 cycle and has already put staff and resources on the ground in the state as part of the largest grassroots expansion in the organization’s 38-year history.
In November, joining the LGBTQ candidates who succeeded in Tuesday’s primary will be Dana Nessel (Democratic candidate for attorney general), Wade Rakes (University of Michigan regent), Sue Carter (Wayne State University Governor), Markus Tincher (District 29), Carol Kuhnke (Washtenaw Circuit Court), Jake Cunningham (Oakland County Circuit Court) and Tracy Hall (Kalamazoo County Commission).

Stay connected at pridesource.com for more information regarding LGBTQ candidates and Election 2018.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.