By Dawn Wolfe
YPSILANTI – In response to a decision by Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents to expand tuition credits to the same-sex partners of university employees, the American Family Association of Michigan has launched a campaign to take away those benefits. At least part of that campaign is based on an outright lie about the school’s policy.
AFA President Gary Glenn, who before the passage of Proposal 2 was on record as saying that the proposal would not affect benefits for same-sex or opposite-sex cohabitating partners, now claims that EMU’s tuition credit violates Michigan’s anti-gay marriage amendment. In addition to contacting the Board of Regents of EMU, Glenn is urging members of his association to contact Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox to protest the benefit.
According to EMU President Craig D. Willis’ secretary, that office has received “about 5,000 emails” condemning the University for the policy. The Board of Regents is also reportedly receiving postcards claiming that the benefits are an “abuse of my tax dollars.”
Lies, and more lies
In a March 8 statement to University of Michigan’s student paper, the Michigan Daily, Glenn claimed that, “I’m not familiar with having said that,” when asked about a November 2004 quote in the Detroit News that Proposal 2 “will not affect benefits offered to people living together or in same-sex relationships.”
Glenn’s change of heart about Proposal 2’s effects is not his only misrepresentation of fact. According to a Jan. 22 letter signed by Glenn and sent to AFA supporters, in 2005 his organization will be involved in “Protecting taxpayers from a new Eastern Michigan University policy that gives students half off their tuition just because they engage in homosexual activity.” In reality, the Eastern policy awards tuition credits to the same-gender partners of employees who have been in committed, domestic partner relationships for at least one year.
Eastern has sent a cease and desist letter to Mr. Glenn asking him to cease from distributing inaccurate information regarding Eastern’s policy, specifically referencing the Jan. 22 letter, according to Ken McKanders, EMU’s general counsel.
“We got a response from their chief counsel, in Tupelo Mississippi, saying that the statement was accurate. They were somewhat vague in this, saying that statements issued by Mr. Glenn are generally accurate, and accusing us of trying to chill his First Amendment rights,” said McKanders.
According to McKanders, EMU responded to the counsel’s letter with yet another request that Mr. Glenn cease and desist from making false statements about the university’s policy, while at the same time supporting Mr. Glenn’s right of free speech. No further response has been received.
Contact Eastern Michigan University, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, and your state representative and senator and urge them to continue Eastern’s tuition credit for the same-sex partners of university employees – and all of the domestic partnership benefits offered by Michigan’s universities, school systems, and municipal governments. Remind them that Proposal 2’s supporters – including Gary Glenn – told Michigan voters that Proposal 2 was about supporting “traditional marriage” – not about hurting families, and that lying is not a moral value.
Craig D. Willis, Ph.D.
Office of the President
Eastern Michigan University
202 Welch Hall
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Eastern Michigan University
Board of Regents
Attorney General Mike Cox
To find your state representative call the Michigan State House Clerk’s office at 517-373-0135 or visit http://www.vote-smart.org.