Granholm shelves DP benefits for state workers
In the wake of Proposal 2’s passage, Gov. Granholm has instructed the State Employer’s office to drop domestic partner benefits from state employee contracts that had already been negotiated and agreed to by the state and several unions.
In an open letter dated Dec. 3, Graholm stated, “I continue to support domestic partner benefits. … However, with the passage of Proposal 2 in Michigan, a legal cloud now surrounds the question of whether the state can move forward.”
The move signified the worst fears of Proposal 2’s many opponents brought to life. Organizers warned all along that it would deny or take away vital health insurance benefits for same-gender partners and their children, despite the fact that Proposal 2’s proponents said it was only about marriage.
“The governor’s office and the union representatives are being overly cautious,” said Jeff Montgomery, executive director of the Triangle Foundation. “Proponents of Proposal 2 kept telling voters it was only about marriage, the amendment wasn’t about domestic partnership benefits, and people believed it. But this decision shows that just wasn’t true. We warned them. Eliminating domestic partnership benefits from the current contract exposes those people who backed Proposal 2 for the deceitful scoundrels that they are.”
Hundreds gather in Lansing to mourn enactment of Proposal 2
Just hours before the amendment to Michigan’s Constitution banning marriage for same-sex couples went into effect more than 400 supporters of LGBT rights stood vigil on the Capitol steps.
Huddled together in below freezing temperatures, their hands cupping candles, they created light on what had been called a dark day for Michigan gays and lesbians. The vigil, organized in part by Michigan Equality, featured speakers from around the state including Jeffrey Montgomery, Michelle Brown, Nathan Triplett, David Garcia, Chris Swope, Melanie Morrison and Maxine Thome.
“It is always darkest before the dawn,” said Michelle Brown, a member of the HRC’s board of governors. “With today’s darkness there is a dawn. A dawn for the thousands of volunteers who crossed the state talking to their neighbors, friends, family and strangers. Together, we are going to usher in the dawn of equality. The question is not if, it is when.”
Community helps bring Christmas to Ruth’s House
A group of caring community members saw to it that residents of Ruth’s House and the regulars who visit the Ruth Ellis Center drop-in program will have lots to be thankful for this holiday season. About 50 LGBT teens wrote wish lists this year, listing three items or a cap of $50.
“They asked for everything from specific music to makeup, video tapes,” said Grace McClelland, executive director of REC. “Some of them wanted paper to write on, someone asked for a Bible. We’re also doing lots of arts and crafts at the center so lots of them were asking for these kinds of things. It was really kind of fun stuff, and then some kids just needed like basic survival stuff, like coats, hats, gloves and they asked for that.”
The kids were “adopted” by members of the Praise Fellowship Church in Ferndale, PFLAG-Detroit and also by Amy Lynch and her hockey team. In addition, the National Association of Catering Executives decorated both Ruth’s House and the drop-in center. The group also hosted a holiday dinner for the residents of Ruth’s House and a party at the drop-in center. CarHart and the Salvation Army donated coats, Ford GLOBE took up a collection to buy the drop-in center a new refrigerator and Just 4 Us held a Ruth Ellis Center day, donating 10 percent of the day’s proceeds to the center.
Dual People Who Care services draw total crowd of 450
How many people in metro Detroit care about people with HIV/AIDS? Well, 450 of them cared enough to come out to two People Who Care About People With AIDS services – one official and one not – on Dec. 10 and 12. Bishop Gene Robinson from New Hampshire, the first openly-gay bishop in the Episcopal church, spoke at Friday night’s official service.
“We may not be able to stop this virus,” Robinson told the crowd of 300. “But we can stop the loneliness, the despair, the stigma. You and I can cure that just as well as Jesus can.”
The official service took place at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak. Meanwhile, the Sunday service took place at Zion Lutheran Church in Ferndale, where about 150 people gathered to hear the Rev. DaVita Carter-McAllister from Atlanta.
“As long as the church preaches a message that gays and lesbians are going to hell they have devalued them as God’s creatures,” Carter-McAllister said.
• Ferndale resident Walter Mark Drewek died of a stroke on Dec. 8. He was 62.
• At the 2004 STD & HIV conference sponsored by the Michigan Department of Community Health, the following community members were recognized Dec. 2 for their contributions: Anthony Harris, Taking It To The Streets Award; Kathy Wall, In The Trenches Award; and Theresa Webb, Compassionate Heart Award. Schawne Anthony Parker and Fredericka Shea were also recognized posthumously with Living Memory Awards.