By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
LANSING — On June 18, the Detroit Free Press published two articles about presumed Republican candidate for the governorship, Dick DeVos.
On the front page, the Freep reported that DeVos has already spent $5 million dollars on his campaign, “the most ever spent this early for TV ads in the governor’s race.”
On page 19A, however, the Freep tells the story that ought to be of most concern to the LGBT community: collectively, the DeVos family gave $125,000 to pass Proposal 2, which wrote discrimination against LGBT-headed families into Michigan’s constitution.
“It’s clear that DeVos’ family and their money was behind the campaign behind Prop. 2, which seems to indicate that the family is not an ally of the LGBT community,” said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project.
The DeVoses, who made their fortune marketing household and other products through direct sales giant Amway (now called Alticor), have also given financial support to anti-gay family groups including the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, according to the Free Press report.
Nor does DeVos himself seem willing to work with the LGBT community — at least, that’s the report of the Log Cabin Republicans, whose political action arm sent the DeVos campaign a candidate survey.
“They sent it back and said they won’t be filling it out, [and] that’s been about the extent of the word we’ve gotten from them,” said Noel Siksai, vice president of political activity for the group.
“We’re not going to be endorsing him,” Siksai said.
Johnnie Jenkins, Detroit Black Pride Society co-founder and director, said that the DeVos candidacy “should encourage us all to jump in on [Governor] Granholm’s campaign, despite whatever issues we may have with her dragging her feet on Proposal 2 and domestic partnership benefits in the past. She’s provided us with an olive branch on a number of occasions and it’s time to move forward and help her get re-elected.”
Triangle Foundation Executive Director Jeffrey Montgomery agreed.
“The fact that the DeVos family has personally bankrolled the Proposal 2 effort shows yet another glaring difference between himself and the governor,” Montgomery said. “She promotes one Michigan; he is clearly comfortable promoting division and second-class citizenship and pandering to an extremist base.”
Siksai said that if DeVos is elected, he will give Michigan “the finest government that money can buy.”
“The fact that he can spend so much money buying his way into office is unsettling at best,” Siksai said.
“I think that someone needs a wakeup call to the fact that you can’t buy everything,” said Michelle Brown, a member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Board of Governors who worked against Proposal 2. “In his commercials it doesn’t even say he’s a Republican. It’s like he wants to put up a picture of his values and use the media, use his money to change reality. All he’s putting up is a very pretty picture, but it doesn’t show the dark side of his world — like Proposal 2 and the fact that it hurts people, and the jobs that he has sent out of town. He’s lying to us…”
“Given the causes that he has backed and everything, I am just not comfortable with him running for office at all,” Siksai said. “The guy definitely does not give me warm, fuzzy feelings.”
Kaplan voiced an additional concern about the possibility of a DeVos governorship.
“If DeVos won, the way our government stands right now there would be no checks and balances — the legislature is controlled by the Republican party and the judiciary is becoming increasingly conservative. [We’d have] no checks and balances in regard to bad legislation or being able to go to the courts,” Kaplan said. “Do we want the same thing in Michigan that we have at the Federal level?”
How to help OUT
Anti-gay Republican candidate Dick DeVos has already spent $5 million “buying his way into” the governor’s office against pro-LGBT Governor Jennifer Granholm. DeVos’ family spent $125,000 to hurt LGBT families by passing Proposal 2. For more information about the Granholm campaign, or to make a campaign donation, visit http://www.granholmforgov.com or call 517-485-5100.