Why not Detroit?

BTL Staff
By | 2010-08-12T09:00:00-04:00 August 12th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Los Angeles. San Francisco. San Diego. Sacramento. Long Beach. New York City. Boston. Denver. Anchorage. Salt Lake City. San Antonio. Dallas. The list goes on – hitting a total of, by some estimates, almost 50 cities in 12 U.S. states.
What do all of these cities have in common? On the evening of Aug. 4, they were all sites of local rallies celebrating Ninth Circuit Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to overturn California’s anti-gay marriage law, Proposition 8.
But here’s the big question: Why isn’t Detroit – or, really, any city in Michigan – on that list?
There’s no doubt that, although the decision does not affect our LGBT citizens, Michiganders were eagerly awaiting Judge Walker’s ruling, and they were in just as celebratory of a mood as other non-affected – but still overwhelmingly happy – LGBT people in other states across the U.S. We all got it: It’s a ruling that, in the most basic of understandings, will hopefully mean the return of same-sex marriages to California.
But it also means a lot more, in that it is the most sweeping, comprehensive shut-down of every point same-sex marriage opponents have ever tried to make. We’re still unsure what legal consequences it could mean for the other states within the Ninth District, or for states like Michigan where our community needs to overturn a same-sex marriage ban. But no matter what effect this will have on us, it is the largest affirmation of our right to marry whomever we choose ever issued by that high of a court. It is a wonderful thing to hear.
So why weren’t we out in the streets? Why weren’t we at the Capitol Building in Lansing? Detroit City Hall? Ferndale? Anywhere?
Equality Michigan Executive Director Alicia Skillman summed it up nicely in her letter to members, celebrating the decision: “When I heard the results,” she wrote, “I actually did a happy dance in my office – I’m sure many of you did, as well.”
We weren’t in the streets. We were in our offices, our homes, our libraries, in our cars, connecting only via Facebook or text message. We celebrated a community triumph – alone. How sad.
This is not to say that one particular group – and certainly not one person – is to blame. Indeed, a look at rallies in various cities will show that they were organized by groups that were a myriad of sizes, abilities and budgets. New York’s rally was organized by Queeer Rising, a small political activism group. Colorado’s came to be by their local chapter of Marriage Equality USA. San Diego’s was a collective effort, brought about by collaboration by LGBT and allied groups that included their local community center, Planned Parenthood Office, labor council and several Democratic groups.
But in Michigan, no one stepped up to the plate. No one made a Facebook event or called friends who called friends, etc. No signage in the streets of Detroit. No cheers on the Capitol steps. Was it the primaries that wiped us out? Are we too unorganized? Did we just not care enough about another state’s victory, while ours are too few?
All we at Between The Lines want is for each of us asks ourselves why, during this moment of decidedly great celebration, we did not celebrate together. And next time – be it a Michigan victory or simply one for our brothers and sisters elsewhere – let’s get it right.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.