At BTL, we have reached an extreme level of anger and disgust at our current political environment in Michigan. We believe strongly it is time – now – to do something, to protest the passage of blatantly discriminatory laws and out-right attacks on our community. That is why we will join other LGBT leaders at the State Capitol at noon on Jan. 18 to raise our voices against the deplorable state of our State for LGBT citizens.
Gov. Snyder will deliver his State of the State speech that same day, and before he goes to the podium we want him to hear from us that the State he has created for LGBT families is unacceptable. We want him to understand that the attacks, the animosity and the shunning of LGBT citizens is hurting not just us, but everyone who cares about equality and fairness.
Michigan is fast becoming known as a bastion of discrimination and restricted opportunity, just when it would behoove us most to be open, accepting and encouraging of new ideas, new people and new energy. Significant employers, especially in high tech industries, know that extending benefits to the families of their LGBT employees is not only the fair thing to do, it is good business. It makes companies more attractive to the best and brightest potential employees. But Michigan keeps adding bricks to the wall at the border that is intended to keep out young, educated, entrepreneurial people – the very people that could help rebuild Michigan into the economic powerhouse it once was.
In case Gov. Snyder and the out-of-touch legislators don’t know what we want, here it is:
-We want the repeal of recent legislation that strips health benefits from the families of LGBT public employees.
-We want the recently introduced bill that would invalidate all local anti-discrimination ordinances to be retracted or killed in committee.
-We want LGBT people to be included in Michigan’s Elliott Larsen legislation, Michigan’s civil rights law that protects citizens against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation.
-We want LGBT families to have the same parental rights, protections and responsibilities as other families. We want full second-parent adoption.
We will add our voices and our editorial pages to the cry for equality and justice. We will do so on Jan. 18, and every day thereafter until LGBT people in Michigan are recognized as full citizens.
This Jan. 18 action is called for by an impressive coalition of the many LGBT community centers in Michigan. Affirmations in Ferndale, Jim Toy Center in Ann Arbor, The Network in Grand Rapids, The Kalamazoo Resource Center, Kick-Detroit, Perceptions in Saginaw/Midland, the Ruth Ellis Center Detroit and the Out Center in Benton Harbor have banded together to bring as many fair-minded people as possible to the capitol to protest, to be seen and to be recognized by the politicians in Lansing. It is exciting to witness these groups working together for a common cause. It is also heartening to see this coalition cooperating with Equality Michigan and the ACLU towards a unified message and movement in our state.
We want to applaud the ACLU’s recent lawsuit against Gov. Rick Synder, who lied when he said during last year’s campaign that he was not interested in “social issues” and would focus his political capital on rebuilding Michigan’s economy. On Dec. 22, 2011 he lost all his credibility when he became the first and only governor in America to strip domestic partner benefits from public employees. By his actions, he showed that he is willing to sacrifice our state’s economic competitiveness for his belief that LGBT people are an inferior class.
Lobbying, lawsuits and political gamesmanship are pieces in the puzzle that make up the movement to eventual equality. Direct action is necessary too, particularly at this time when the opposition acts with impunity, as if they can pass the most outrageous laws with no negative consequences. On Jan. 18, it will be up to us to begin to create a negative consequence for Gov. Snyder and the radical right wing of the Republican Party. They must hear that we are paying very close attention. We will react and we will vote. As Michael Steinberg of the ACLU said, “We cannot stand idly by.”
Join us – everyone – Jan. 18 at the State Capitol at noon!