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The role of the Michigan Attorney General is a powerful, important position in the state. The office represents the people of Michigan in criminal and civil actions. They are supposed to be the hero that rides in on a steed to save Michiganders from the unscrupulous and criminal. That is the history former Democratic Attorney General Frank Kelley established in his 37 year run in the office.
But in the last 16 years, that’s changed. Under two Republican Attorneys General, Mike Cox and Bill Schuette, the average Michigander has been a target of the office. Whether it was action to erode the voter-approved medical marijuana law, defending the state’s ban on same-sex marriage or joining other right-wing Attorneys General from across the nation to erode a woman’s right to choose; the Michigan Attorney General’s office has become another arm of the Republican party’s assault on everyday Michiganders in support of exploitative policies to restrict rights and protect the corporations.
In 2018, Michiganders have an opportunity to stop this politicalization and erosion of our rights. We need an Attorney General that understands that justice should be accessible to all Michiganders, not a select few powerful donors. Between The Lines believes that Dana Nessel is that leader as do prominent political action committees like the Victory Fund and LPAC, both of which endorsed her.
Nessel is recognized as one of the premier litigators of LGBTQ issues in the state who is known for taking the precedent-setting case DeBoer v. Snyder to the Supreme Court to win same-sex couples the right to marry in 2015.
Nessel embodies the “urgency of now” as it relates to seeking justice and equality. That urgency has put her at odds at times with progressive organizations like Equality Michigan and the ACLU of Michigan. She’s cantankerous and vocal; but those are not necessarily attributes that exclude her from the Attorney General’s office. Indeed those are qualities which uniquely position her to fight for Flint residents and their poisoned water, uncover sexual assault and harassment at Michigan State University and push for full equality of Michigan’s LGBTQ community.
That is something Nessel has been working toward since July 2016 when she launched the Fair Michigan Justice Project in collaboration with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. Since then, Nessel and her team have a 100 percent conviction rate pursuing hate crimes committed against people who are LGBTQ.
Patrick Miles, Nessel’s principal opponent and a private practice attorney, did not prosecute a single hate crimes case during his tenure as former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan. And his history as the U.S. Attorney raises serious issues. While in one breath claiming that he would not prosecute a person who was in compliance with Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act, in the other he was charging several Okemos residents with enough felony charges to land them in federal prison for 100 years. Their sole crime was growing marijuana for patients — all legal under Michigan law.
While Miles has claimed in interviews with BTL that he will be an advocate for the LGBT community if elected as Attorney General, we are not convinced, based on his history, that this will happen. Miles opposed marriage equality. Miles and his family have served for many years on the board of Grand Rapids Christian Church which hired anti-LGBTQ Pastor Rick Lippert. He has also served on the board of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids. That college has a long, sordid history of anti-LGBT actions, including barring a speech by Dr. John Corvino in 2008 while Miles served as president of the organization’s board. He did not fight for the community, he stood behind bigotry.
Miles has shown with his history that he is not the progressive people’s champion who Michiganders need and deserve in the Attorney General’s office. Nessel has proven that she’s willing to take on the unpopular and controversial — fighting against the conventional wisdom — in the pursuit of justice and equality for all. That is the leadership Michigan deserves in the Attorney General’s Office.
To ensure Nessel is nominated for this position, members of the community who wish to vote must be a member of the Michigan Democratic Party for at least 30 days prior to the endorsement convention on April 15 at Cobo Center in Detroit where the Democratic candidate for attorney general will be pre-determined. A nomination convention will take place Aug. 25-26 in Lansing. Members of the community who wish to vote must fill out an MDP membership application via mail or online before March 15. For more information contact the MDP by phone at 517-371-5410 or by email at email@example.com.