By Sarah Mieras
LANSING – Ministers, parents, and grandparents are among the new LGBT rights activists. Fueled by the passage of Proposal 2 last fall, many unusual suspects can be seen knocking on lawmaker’s doors in Lansing urging the passage of civil rights and anti-bullying legislation.
On February 8, under the direction of the Triangle Foundation and the American Friends Service Committee of Ann Arbor, more than 10 people gathered at the Capitol to lobby their state Senators and Representatives face-to-face. The lobby day, said Sean Kosofsky of the Triangle Foundation, will be held the second Tuesday of each month.
Unlike larger lobby days organized in the LGBT community, very few of the concerned citizens at this gathering were gay or lesbian. And sadly, many of them noted, that fact gives them a power as a lobbyist for LGBT equality.
“I have six children, 12 grand children and three great-grandchildren, and one gay son. I see how my gay son is exposed to discrimination that my other children don’t have to face,” explained Tom Nelson of Farmington Hills.
A devote Catholic who attends St. Fabian Church, Nelson was outraged by the Catholic Church’s support of Proposal 2. So outraged that, for the first time in his life, he has begun writing letters and lobbying lawmakers.
“I have never done anything like this in my life. I have never felt so passionate and outraged about something that I needed to get involved,” said Nelson.
Nelson’s newly found passion was not out of place at the recent lobby day. Linda Karle of Gross Pointe Woods noted that her gay son is not an activist, but to make his world safer, she needs to be. Louise Dietz, of Cass City, has a gay son and a lesbian daughter. She made the trip from the thumb region to Lansing to meet with her conservative lawmakers because lobbying is something her children don’t feel comfortable doing. Telling their story is the best she can do to make others realize that LGBT rights are more than a political issue. “This is about real people.”
According to Kosofsky, allies of the LGBT community, especially those with strong faith connection, carry clout with lawmakers. They can make a real difference as the civil rights bill amendment and a safe school bill moves through this session.
The informal lobby day will take place the second Tuesday of each month. For more information or to register contact Kosofsky at email@example.com or Michael Gibson-Faith of the AFSC at 734-761-8283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.