Erin Knott, Equality Michigan's executive director, is calling for more LGBTQ+ voices in the state's "once in a decade" redistricting opportunity.
Every 10 years, states get the opportunity to redistrict their maps – to create boundaries that allow for more legislative representation based on the most current census data. For weeks, the Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission (MICRC) has been working to do just that.
"It is hugely important that the commission hears from LGBTQ constituents and our allies," Knott told Pride Source. "We know that — if you look at the comments, if you watch the videos — individuals who aren't as concerned about pro-equality representation or pro-equality policies have been turning out in droves, providing comments and feedback as it relates to the mapping process."
Since the LGBTQ Victory Fund launched their campaign "We Belong Together" a few weeks ago, equal representation in the redistricting process has been a hot topic in the LGBTQ+ community.
"Equality Michigan is definitely grateful for everything that the commission is doing and very aware of how difficult it has been to conduct public meetings, draft maps and consider thousands of public comments," explained Knott. "We're grateful at their attempt to provide the draft map to the public."
Knott said MICRC finalized their first Senate map attempt on Sept. 15, though it has not been released to the public yet. She said the entire state government website is going through a transition and that there's a moratorium on updating government websites across Michigan. Despite this roadblock, Knott said, "[This] process has to be transparent, and this limitation will make the process more difficult for the public to engage."
Due to the lack of transparency, Knott is using her platform to ask the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to get more involved. She says the community can get involved by attending meetings and submitting written comments.
"[For] our community, this is the opportunity to gain more LGBTQ+ representation in government," she said. "The redistricting process helps to solidify the LGBTQ+ voting power within appropriately drawn districts. This includes at the local level: city council, commissions, state legislatures and congressional districts — even your school board members."
The Secretary of State's website includes a list of resources that can help people get more involved in the redistricting process. You'll find meeting notices, materials on the map-drawing process and information on how to submit testimony.
"Draft maps are going to be finalized next week and published on Oct. 8, with new public hearings starting on Oct. 11 in Flint," Knott said. "I would urge the public to show up to these meetings and provide comments on the maps, as this would be our community's final opportunity to ask the commission to make any changes and ensure the maps are equitable for all communities, including the LGBTQ+ community."