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February – Detroit Public Schools CEO Creates Task Force, Looks at LGBT Student Issues: In response to a community town hall, Detroit Public Schools CEO Dr. Kenneth Burnley announced that he would create a task force to examine issues and craft policies to rectify the many problems plaguing gay students. Several serious homophobia-related crises had erupted in Detroitʼs schools, including assaults and violence directed toward gay students, so-called lesbian “gangs” that had forcefully emerged, and what had been described as a rampant and growing HIV/AIDS epidemic.
July – MSU Announces Scholarship for LGBT Students of Color: Michigan State University undergraduate student LaJoya Johnson was motivated to create a scholarship for LGBT students of color following the 2003 murder of Sakia Gunn, a 15-year-old African-American lesbian in Newark, New Jersey. The murder had a profound impact on Johnson’s commitment to being an activist at MSU.
August – Largest Demonstration in Traverse City History Says ‘No’ to Bush:
In what local historian Larry Wakefield termed the largest demonstration in the cityʼs history, over 1,000 people gathered to protest a campaign appearance by George W. Bush. The crowd of demonstrators was between 1,000 and 1,500. For hours before Bush was scheduled to speak, community members carried signs and spoke out about the war, job losses, environmental degradation, reproductive freedom and marriage equality.
September – Kerry Grants Interview to BTL: Marking the first time a major party presidential nominee has ever granted the gay media an interview, Sen. John Kerry spoke to Lisa Keen on Sept. 9, which appeared first in BTL then was later distributed widely to the national gay press. Kerry said securing equal protections for gays would be a process, and one that he was committed to keeping forward bound.
December – People Who Care Service a ‘High Church’ Affair:
The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, IX Bishop of New Hampshire, the first openly-gay bishop in the history of the Episcopal church gave a sermon at the 20th annual People Who Care About People With AIDS service on Dec. 10 at St. Johnʼs in Royal Oak. Organizers planned a high church service to honor the visiting bishop. “[And] one of the great gifts that people with HIV and AIDS have given me is to be able to look at my own death and live in spite of it,” said Robinson, who spoke not only of the AIDS epidemic in the country, but also of the global crisis.
Dark Days for Gays
February: On Feb. 24, a hearing was held in the House Family and Children Services Committee regarding House Joint Resolution U, the marriage amendment, to ban marriage rights, civil unions, and domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples in Michigan. After one hour of debate, the committee elected to vote on the issue, moving it forward by a vote of 6-0. All six Republicans on the committee voted yes, while the three Democrats declined to vote. There were no votes against the resolution.
March: Supporters of the anti-gay marriage amendment to the Michigan Constitution failed to get the 73 votes in the House of Representatives necessary to pass the resolution. The vote was 65 in favor of and 38 against the resolution which was eight votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass HJR U before going to the Michigan Senate for a vote.
April: A group calling itself Citizens for the Protection of Marriage began circulating petitions to get the anti-gay marriage amendment proposal on the Nov. 2004 ballot. In response, the Coalition for a Fair Michigan pushed its Decline To Sign campaign, a grassroots effort to encourage people in Michigan to refrain from signing the petitions.
July:] Citizens for the Protection of Marriage turned in over 482,000 signatures to the Secretary of Stateʼs office on July 5.
August: In a 2-2 vote along party lines Aug. 23, the State Board of Canvassers denied the proposed constitutional marriage amendment. The measureʼs proponents had vowed to appeal the Boardʼs decision in court.
September: The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled against the Board of Canvassers Sept. 3, assuring the anti-gay marriage amendment a place on the ballot in November.
October: The Michigan State AFL-CIO announced its formal opposition to Proposal 2. It was the largest union, with over 600,000 members in its 59 affiliate unions, urged to vote NO on 2.
October: Newspapers across Michigan overwhelmingly came out against Proposal 2 in their editorial pages.
November: Michiganʼs Governor Jennifer Granholm spoke out during her “Ask the Governor” radio program on WJR AM 760 against Proposal 2 calling it unnecessary and saying it goes too far.
November: Proposal 2, which sought to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the stateʼs constitution, won by a margin of 59-41 percent. Nationally, Michiganʼs loss was part of a much larger trend. Ten additional states had similar measures on the ballot, and the measures passed in all of them.