On Nov. 6 Ballot Firsts Abound

Many Reasons to Vote in Midterms

Mark LaChey
By | 2018-10-31T14:42:02-04:00 October 31st, 2018|Opinions, Viewpoints|

What to say to get you to vote that isn’t already in a meme? That’s my task and conundrum. So let’s start with this: LGBTQ Michiganders, when sufficiently motivated, vote and do so in large numbers. For example, 2014 post-election modeling done by the national Stonewall Democrats determined that 14 percent of all Democratic voters in Michigan were LGBTQ. Assuming that we’re 3 to 5 percent of our state’s overall population, that outsized voting percentage is hugely significant.
But why did this happen? My best guess is because we had candidates who were going to take immediate action on an issue that we cared about, namely marriage equality. In 2018 we have plenty of other motivating factors.
Let’s start with re-electing our senior Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who’s a co-sponsor of the federal Equality Act. If passed, LGBTQ Americans would have non-discrimination protections in employment, housing, financial dealings, medical treatment and public accommodations. Or, in other words, amending Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act would become moot. The same holds true for electing (or re-electing) any of our Democrats running for Congress. All have agreed to support and co-sponsor the Equality Act in the U.S. House. And Democrats, taking the majority in either or both, would push that legislation to the front.
Similarly, Gretchen Whitmer is a longstanding and outspoken champion for LGBTQ rights and her election as our next governor would make amending Michigan Civil Rights Law its best chance yet. And as with adding Democratic members of congress, electing Democratic majorities in Michigan’s state house and senate would put our legislative allies in charge of the very committees that would hear and vote on such legislation in 2019.
For instance if State Rep. Christine Greig, a huge ally, is poised to become the next Speaker of the House if Democrats take the majority with State Sen. Jim Ananich, a proven ally, to become the majority leader. And that puts Jeremy Moss — who, if elected, will be the first openly gay member of that chamber in Michigan history — along with our own State House Reps. Jon Hoadley and Tim Sneller in positions of majority leadership. And not forgetting the candidacy of Garnet Lewis for state senate, who, if successful, would become the first gay women legislator in our state’s history, plus another LGBT member of the state senate. A whole lot of important “firsts.”
Beyond that, electing Dana Nessel would be another previously unprecedented election … the first LGBT statewide office holder. As Gretchen Whitmer says on the campaign trail, having an attorney general that has her back — and ours — rather than stabbing her in the back is invaluable. Dana’s election would be immensely important in supporting current LGBTQ protections and sustaining future legislative gains.
There are a myriad of other LGBTQ candidates running for offices in Michigan varying from circuit court judge — like Jake Cunningham in Oakland County — to county prosecutor in Isabella County (another statewide historical first if Larry King is successful) to a bunch of county commissioners and city council members across our state. Once elected, each of these are the invaluable “seat at the table” promoting and protecting our rights as LGBTQ Michiganders.
Finally for now, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention our Party’s candidates for Michigan Supreme Court, Sam Bagenstos and Megan Cavanagh. They won’t be listed on your ballot as Democrats but they’re both solidly pro-equality. If elected, they would join fellow Democrats Bridget McCormack and Richard Berstein as a solid pro-LGBTQ majority. Having our state supreme court favorable to our community’s issues is the invaluable third leg of the stool in sustaining whatever pro-equality legislation might be passed against the certain legal challenges to be brought by those who have actively worked against our rights for the past decades.
In sum, your single vote matters regardless of where you live in Michigan from a solidly blue city in Southeast Michigan to the deepest red county up north or out west. None are wasted; each is equally counted. Take a minute to find out how and where to vote: webapps.sos.state.mi.us/MVIC including obtaining an absentee ballot to avoid the lines on election day. Then find out who to vote for with this year’s super-easy-to-use progressive voter guide found at pridesource.com/voterguide.
There … zero excuses not to vote and now the reasons why you must. Together we can and will move Michigan from a low-equality state to a place we can all be proud and happy to call home. It all starts on Nov. 6.

About the Author:

Mark LaChey
Mark LaChey is an attorney and Chair of the LGBTQ&A Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party. He also servers as a Vice-Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party and on the Board of The Victory Fund. Find the LGBTQ&A Caucus on Facebook.