Proposal 2 marriage amendment on ballot
As expected, 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. In addition to putting the measure on the ballot, the Court of Appeals approved ballot language that the Coalition for a Fair Michigan calls confusing.
“The Court of Appeals had an opportunity to make sure the voters had a fair and accurate description of how this amendment will wipe out existing domestic partnership benefits, including those between a man and a woman,” said Wendy Howell, campaign manager for Coalition for a Fair Michigan. “Unfortunately, when voters read their ballot, they will read legalese meant to keep them from knowing that this amendment will take away health and pension benefits from Michigan families, including those of a man and a woman.
“It’s too bad the Court of Appeals has allowed the backers of this amendment to use deceptive legalese to try to trick the voters into banning domestic partnerships,” Howell continued. “By not clarifying the ballot language, the Court of Appeals has made it harder for voters to see what is hidden in this unnecessary and cynical amendment.”
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, offering an insightful interview. It appeared first in BTL and was later distributed widely to the national gay press.
“People are going to have to realize that what’s at stake here is the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Kerry. “What’s at stake is whether you’re going to have a president who’s prepared to fight for ENDA and fight for hate crimes [legislation], or one who’s going to just let them sit there. So if people want to make progress in America, in terms of equal protection under the law and living up to our constitutional rights, this election is the most important election of our lifetime.”
Kerry said securing equal protections for gays would be a process, and one that he was committed to keeping forward bound.
“Look – you have to begin at a beginning,” he said. “It took us a long time to pass the civil rights law. There was a huge filibuster against it. Nowadays, people couldn’t conceive of why did we fight about that. It took us a long time for women to get the right to vote in America. You have to fight for things. And you pick a starting point and my starting point is to try to pass ENDA and try to pass hate crimes [legislation]. And you begin to educate people, and hopefully you change the climate and tone — it’s been very exploitive in the last year or so. And you lead.”
Opposition abounds for conscientious objector bills at hearing
The Senate Health Policy Committee heard testimony Sept. 22 on a package of bills referred to as the Medical Conscientious Objector Package. The package of bills seeks to allow doctors, insurers, health facilities and other health care providers the right to refuse treatment, coverage, or procedures to patients based on moral, ethical, or religious grounds. The package of bills was passed by the House on April 21.
Although the bills are supported most strongly by anti-abortion advocates and seek to target reproductive health and family planning services, LGBT rights advocates argue that the bills could allow providers and insurers to refuse to treat or insure LGBT people.
Committee member Sen. Virg Benero (D-Lansing) had little patience for the bills. “I see this as turning medicine on its head,” he said, adding that these bills would put the needs of caregivers before the needs of patients. “I think this is one of the wackiest ideas masquerading as public policy I’ve seen.”
Judy Shepard speaks to capacity crowd in Kalamazoo
With less than 40 days until election day, Judy Shepard, mother of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, visited the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo on Sept. 22. More than 800 students and community members packed into the Dalton Center to listen to her one-hour address. Close to 100 people were turned away due to a lack of seating.
Although the heart of her message was tolerance and embracing diversity, she also laid out steps for a safer country that allies and LGBT people alike should focus on this year. The steps included registering to vote, learning about the issues, voting and coming out of the closet all day, every day.
“Until people come out all day, every day nothing will change,” said Shepard. “America needs to see that the gay community is the same as everyone else.”
• Linda Parker, the new director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, has appointed W. Ann Warner liaison to the LGBT community. “Ann Warner has been a strong ally for many years,” stated Triangle Foundation Executive Director Jeff Montgomery. “Her appointment only enhances a role she already fulfills with energy and a sense for justice.”
• Full Truth Fellowship of Christ Church celebrated 15 years of service to the community with a special weekend of services Sept. 8-10.
• The Detroit Jewish News made the decision to publish the engagement, union, anniversary and birth announcements of same-sex couples. The move comes four years after the first same-sex marriage announcement was received by the paper and refused.
• Steppin’ Out Detroit raised $305,000 with their 15th annual AIDS Walk Detroit, which took place in Royal Oak Sept. 19.