This post was written by my dear friend Amy Hunter. Amy and I have known each other for several years thanks to Facebook and Twitter but only met in person for the first time this past summer at the Netroots Nation conference where we appeared on Lizz Winstead’s “Morning News Dump” together. Amy is President and Chair of the Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality and spokesperson for the Transgender Leadership Project.
Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor Lisa Brown looks on as same-sex couples share their first kiss as married couples after the ceremony she officiated
A Stark Contrast on Equality
By Amy Hunter
The contrast between what is good policy for Michigan and cynical electoral politics could not be starker. Gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer has been clear all along, “When I am governor, discrimination will have no place in my administration … and we will lead Michigan to be a marriage equality state,” Schauer said at an August rally in Lansing. Rick Snyder, on the other hand, is hedging his election year bets, refusing to tell us what he believes about equality for Michigan’s LGBT residents and about the doomed ban on same-sex marriage in particular.
Asked by a moderator during Snyder and Schauer’s only debate whether he would ask Michigan’s Attorney General to continue his crusade should the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals uphold federal District Court Judge Friedman’s ruling striking down the ban, Snyder had this to say, “I’m going to wait for the opinion to come down … That’s where the issue is going to be decided.” That is not an answer, that’s a politician’s calculated response to keep from upsetting a rapidly dwindling constituency which opposes marriage equality. Rick Snyder thinks he needs this shrinking pool of voters and funders to win re-election—that’s cynical.
By contrast, Schauer restated his support for marriage equality that Sunday night. “It’s not only the right thing to do but it is an economic issue in our state to discriminate.” That’s unequivocal, and it’s good policy.
At a time when Michigan is struggling to regain economic prosperity that reaches all Michiganders, the last thing we need to do is drive away our best and brightest to states who treat everyone fairly and equally, no matter who they are, or who they love. Increasingly, young people, well educated at our state’s finest institutions, leave Michigan after graduation in search of environments that foster diversity and all the gifts it brings to the economy.
Gay couples in Michigan pay taxes, vote, serve in the military, and run the small businesses that have helped bring Michigan’s economy back from the brink. They work hard and pay into the same system as everyone else, and they should have the same freedom to marry that other couples enjoy. This is something that Schauer and his running mate, Lisa Brown, understand.
“Lisa [Brown] and I, because of our core values, are about equality,” Schauer told Between The Lines. “…we need to make sure we have the right people at the table, including the LGBT community, who can help us develop a policy agenda for this state, whether it is economic development, jobs, revitalizing our communities, education, healthcare – all of the above.”
Meanwhile, Governor Snyder cannot be bothered to directly answer a question. Asked about updating the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, he fails to show any leadership and instead says, “I’m encouraging them to say there’s been a lot of dialog and discussion on this. It’s been healthy in the public and I think it could be an appropriate topic for the legislators to take up. I would appreciate that.”
When pressed if that meant he wanted legislators to craft a bill and he’d sign it, Snyder shuffled the deck again and said, “I didn’t say that. What I would say is I would really appreciate them taking up the issue and reviewing and considering it and I don’t believe in discrimination.” That’s not policy. That’s hedging for political expediency, and that’s wrong.
Photo/meme by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog