Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Sarah Mieras
DETROIT – The uncertain language of the marriage amendment didn’t stop the Coalition for a Fair Michigan from politicking inside the Democratic Convention last weekend for supporters.
Currently deadlocked in language limbo by the State Board of Canvassers, the prevailing opinion is that the amendment will make it to the ballot. The most recent in a string of anti-gay measures in Michigan, the amendment aims to ban marriage between same-sex couples and outlaw civil unions and domestic partnership benefits.
During the Aug. 28 and 29 State Democratic Convention, CFM met with hundreds of people inside Detroit’s Cobo Hall to explain the hidden dangers of the measure.
Beverley Davidson, her partner Sascha Matish and Matish’s mother Ann Matish were among the CFM volunteers working the Convention. A member of the adoption advocacy group CARE and a social worker, Davidson was inspired to get involved with the campaign not because she wants to get married, but because without legal protections, gay and lesbian families exist in a legal void.
“I lost a child in a break-up,” explained Davidson. “I have no rights to see him and it has been more than five years.”
Despite the limbo of the amendment, Davidson is confident that the measure will fall before voters on Nov. 2. By volunteering, even for a few hours, she hopes to help defeat the measure.
“If it passes domestic partnership benefits, and any hope for adoption rights, are gone. We will go back centuries for equality, not just for LGBT people, but for women as well,” explained Davidson.
Sascha Matish, who is an Executive Committee member of the Coalition, expressed frustration over the timing of the amendment.
“As a big, deep Democrat, I am concerned that this is a just a way to drum up right-wing voters, so that Bush can take Michigan.”
In conversations with political leaders and delegates at the Convention, Matish stressed that regardless of someone’s stance on LGBT issues, the move to use the Constitution as a political football should be enough to garner a “no” vote on the issue.
“Any time you try to add discrimination to our State Constitution, people should be very concerned,” said Matish.
In between gathering signatures and handing out bright red “vote no” stickers, Ann Matish noted that even if her daughter wasn’t a lesbian, she would still be working to help defeat the amendment.
“It’s not about gay and lesbian marriage,” said Ann Matish. “It is about George Bush trying to divert attention from the economy and the war to a divisive issue.”
CFM is a ballot question committee, noted Political Director Dana Houle, and is by definition a non-partisan group. Attending the Democratic Convention, he explained, was simply one more way the Coalition could spread its “vote no” message.
“The main thing we are doing is spreading the message that this is a divisive proposal and that the people behind it are trying to deceive voters,” said Houle. “This would actually preemptively ban civil unions and would go after domestic partnership benefits. Really, it affects both LGBT people and straight people.”
To help educate members of the Democratic Party, members of the Coalition addressed numerous issue-based caucuses and Congressional caucuses gathered at the convention. The Coalition, he noted, was especially successful when they spoke with the Justice, Women’s, Arab-American, and Labor groups.
Toward the end of the Convention’s first day, Julius Zomper, the Coalition’s Communication’s Director, noted that it is sign of progress that most everyone at the Convention received the campaign well and seemed concerned about the amendment’s effects if approved by voters.
When asked if the Coalition planned on attending the Republican State Convention to drum up the “vote no” message, Zomper smiled and said that the Republican Convention is a place they would have liked to have gone.
“It was a logistics issue. They just aren’t having it in an easy-to-reach place.