When your fellow Republicans vote to enshrine discrimination into law, it’s not a week to brag about the state.
So there I was, minding my own business late Friday afternoon, when an email from Governor Rick Snyder’s office showed up in my inbox. It wouldn’t be remarkable except for the subject line:
“A great week for the state of Michigan”
I know for certain I’m not the only Michigander whose stomach turned when I read that. Because the first thing I thought was, “It’s not a great week in this state when the House votes to allow discrimination.”
Like so many other Michiganders who care about equality and social justice, I thought this was a tough week. It physically hurt me to watch the Michigan House vote in favor of religious discrimination in adoptions, putting faith above the best interests of children in need and loving, qualified couples and individuals. They legislated hate.
The reaction to the “yes” vote for these bills was swift and loud. Facebook friends who never comment on my issue advocacy and political posts weighed in. People of faith weighed in, opposing the legislation. People said they were heartbroken.
I am heartbroken. Michigan’s LGBTQ community is heartbroken, because 65 of their state Representatives said, “You aren’t good enough to be treated like everyone else.” People who hope to adopt someday but might not be the “right” religion are heartbroken. If they’re old enough to understand, children in the foster care system who just want a loving, forever home are heartbroken.
On this Friday afternoon, many of us were looking at the arrival of spring — and the weekend — as a chance to shake off the stench of the vote, an opportunity to recharge and come back swinging. Because the Senate and the Governor have yet to vote and sign this legislation into law. So there’s a chance to beat it. But coming up right behind it are a host of other religious refusal bills chugging through the Michigan Legislature, bills that would make it legal to turn people away from healthcare and other services, all in the name of religion.
The supporters of these bills will tell you it’s all about religious liberty — and they’ll keep saying it, just as some of them have been doing on Twitter with the hashtag #FreeToBelieve. Sure, they’re free to believe whatever they’d like, as am I. Which means I am free to not believe the same things they do. Why is that so difficult for people to understand? Laws that enshrine “religious freedom” into law actually take away the freedom of others.
But there’s a tidal wave of religious refusal legislation coming and we have to be ready to hold it back. So, like so many others, I was getting ready to enjoy a couple days off and time with family and friends, before jumping back into the fight on Monday.
Then I got the email from Gov. Snyder’s office. “A great week for the state of Michigan.”
No, Governor, it wasn’t. Not for me and thousands of others. It was a terrible week. A week when we were ashamed to live here, frightened about the future, and devastated for the people in our community who are being treated like second-class citizens.
Sure, I’m happy about the good news in the email, like Saugatuck being rightfully named the country’s best coastal small town. But did anyone on the Governor’s staff think, even for a moment, what kind of message they’d be sending to people who got that email?
Let’s hope the subject line was nothing more than a lack of judgement on the part of a junior communications staffer — who will be taught to do better next time — and not a sign of how Governor Snyder will respond if asked to sign these bills.
Then again, it makes me sad to think that anyone — at any level in the Governor’s administration or anywhere else — would think this was a week to send an email talking about how great the state of Michigan is. For everyone who thought this was a horrible, hateful week, that email was a punch in the gut.
It’s hard to imagine anyone being that insensitive and intolerant, but I suppose that’s how legislation like this gets written in the first place.
Tell Governor Snyder the state of Michigan will never be great if laws allowing religious discrimination are passed. You can contact him HERE. You can also contact your state Senator, to voice opposition if the bills advance to the Senate.
[Caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]