February Michigan News

Jason A. Michael
Same-sex couples apply en masse for marriage licenses

Six same-sex couples went to the Oakland County Courthouse on Feb. 13 to ask for marriage licenses in an effort to protest the inequality of Michigan's marriage laws. The protest, organized by Metropolitan Community Church Detroit and Soulforce Detroit, was one of several similar activities taking place across the country as a part of "Freedom to Marry Week" (Feb. 9-15), which is orchestrated by MCC, and other organizations working towards marriage equality. The Rev. Troy Perry of USMCC began the protest three years ago and has called on same-sex couples to participate each year since.
Linda Spencer and her partner Dawn Bush from Waterford were among the couples that came to the courthouse to ask for a marriage license. Their ceremony was planned for the following month and Spencer had picked up her wedding dress earlier in the day.
"We're about to have a holy union a month from today and we want it recognized in the state of Michigan," she said. "There are benefits that I feel are my civil rights in this state that are denied."

Detroit mayor denounces marriage equality for gays on national television

Standing in apparent agreement with Republican President George W. Bush, Detroit's Democratic Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick denounced marriage equality for gays on national television Feb. 27. Kilpatrick was a guest on Real Time with Bill Mayer, which is broadcast live on the cable television network HBO, when he adamantly expressed his opposition to marriage for gays.
"I think that where this doesn't belong is in a political discussion and I think that that's where we're starting off on the wrong foot," Kilpatrick said. "I personally do not support gay marriage."
"Is that a political opinion?" Mayer asked.
"I think that marriage is between a woman and a man," answered Kilpatrick. "That is not a political opinion. If I was not in politics I'd say the same thing."
"Based on what?"
"Based on who I am, whose I am and where I come from," Kilpatrick continued.
"But who cares?" asked Mayer. "It's about them."
"It isn't about them," said Kilpatrick. "It's about all of us. I think there might be some genuine relationships. I don't deny that at all."
"Might be?" Mayer asked incredulously.
But if he was shocked by Kilpatrick's comments, the Triangle Foundation's Jeffery Montgomery was not.
"It's not the first time that we've heard this position from the mayor," said Montgomery, Triangle's executive director. "He takes refuge in this religious cover that his religion doesn't allow him to support gay marriage."

Michigan clergy lobby state house in favor of marriage equality for gays

In advance of a planned vote on an amendment to Michigan's Constitution that would define marriage as an institution to be entered into by one woman and one man and outlaw any form of recognition for same-sex couples – including civil unions and domestic partnership benefits – over 50 people attended a press conference in Lansing.
Sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and the Religious Coalition for A Fair Michigan, the eloquent clergy stood on the steps of the Capitol and delivered a clear message to Senator Alan Cropsey and Rep. Gary Newell, who proposed the amendment in the state senate and house respectively.
"One-hundred fifty years ago it was against the law and against the Bible for slaves to get married," said Rev. Selma Massey of Whosoever Ministries. "Then 50 years ago it was against the law and against the Bible for interracial marriage to occur. And now here we are and they're trying to tell us that it's against the Bible and against the law for us to love. But the last time I read my Bible the Bible said that God is love and we love because He first loved us. So when two people, whether they're two women or two men, love each other, God is right there. And if God is before us, who can be against us?"

Detroit Schools CEO creates task force to examine LGBT students' issues

As a direct result of the spotlight focusing on LGBT students' issues at the Jan. 28 town hall meeting addressing homophobia in the city, Detroit Public Schools CEO Kenneth Burnley announced that he will create a task force to examine issues and craft policies to rectify the many problems plaguing gay students. Burnley made the announcement at the monthly principal's meeting Feb. 12, according to Darrell Rodgers, the executive director of the school system's Department of Environmental Health and Safety, who was present at the meeting.
"During the meeting, there was the issue of diversity on the agenda, so Dr. Burnley brought up the topic with respect to students with [a] different sexual 'preference,' and he asked the audience of elementary, middle and high school principals if their students were experiencing problems – being bullied and picked on," Rodgers said. "A large number of the high school principals acknowledged that, yes, they were. And several middle school principals got up and said that they needed some support as well."

Ferndale meeting on marriage equality draws huge crowd

When Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center announced an open forum on marriage equality for same-sex couples, the demand was so great the meeting had to be moved off the center's premises to accommodate the expected crowd. Nearly 200 LGBTs packed into nearby Club Q to take on the topic Feb. 26.
Panelists included Jay Kaplan of the ACLU, who was firm in his criticism of Bush's call for a Constitutional amendment to ban marriage for gays.
"He made history as the first president ever to advocate writing discrimination into the constitution," Kaplan said. "It is neither compassionate nor is it conservative. It is an extremely, extremely radical proposal."


• The friendly and flirtatious face behind the counter at Chosen Books for the past 18 years, Ken Rosen, suffered a massive stroke on Feb. 1. A series of benefits were quickly organized to pay for his long-term health care and rehabilitation, and it is thought that he will likely be unable to return to work at the store he's become synonymous with in the past two decades.
• Michelle Brown of Detroit was named to the national Human Rights Campaign Board of Governors.
• Lorraine Leroux, a Lansing-area activist involved in such organizations as "First Fridays," a social group for lesbians, "Sistrum," the Lansing Women's Chorus, "Ecclesia" and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – Lansing, died Feb. 28 at the age of 83.


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