DAILY TRIBUNE — Gay marriage activists raise awareness of legal rights of partners

Michigan “one of the states that’s the
farthest behind in legalizing gay marriage”

“‘There’s a constitutional amendment in Michigan prohibiting gay marriage, defining marriage between one man and one woman. We’re probably one of the states that’s the farthest behind in legalizing gay marriage. We have to change the constitution before we can pass a bill,’ said (Kathleen LaCosch, chief administrative officer of Affirmations, a homosexual activist group in Ferndale).”

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DAILY TRIBUNE
Royal Oak, Michigan
July 9, 2011

Gay marriage activists raise
awareness of legal rights of partners

by Monica Drake
For the Daily Tribune

Former Village of Oxford resident and Oxford High School student Jeremy Martin with his boyfriend Jeremy Lodwig, said if gay marriage was legal in Michigan, he would like to get married in his home state.

New York’s same-sex marriage law goes into effect July 24, but Kathleen LaCosch, chief administrative officer of Affirmations in Ferndale, said gay people in Michigan have a long way to go until they can get married, too.

“There’s a constitutional amendment in Michigan prohibiting gay marriage, defining marriage between one man and one woman. We’re probably one of the states that’s the farthest behind in legalizing gay marriage.

“We have to change the constitution before we can pass a bill,” said LaCosch.

“(In Michigan) when a person’s partner dies, that person’s family of origin can come in and take the house and make decisions about the funeral and burial and leave that significant other — who may have been their partner for 50 years — completely out in the cold. I’ve seen it time and time again.”

LaCosch said the legalization of gay marriage in New York is “a step in the right direction to have gay marriage legalized nationwide.

“It’s the most populous state that has legalized gay marriage. It’s a significant increase of people who now have protection,” said LaCosch.

Former Village of Oxford resident Jeremy Martin, 24, said he wanted to marry Jeremy Lodwig, his partner of three years, in his home state of Michigan, but he said they will now have to travel out of state to get married.

Martin said he doesn’t think legalizing gay marriage nationwide would help people become more accepting, though.

“I think if gay marriage is legalized nationwide, it will cause more segregation. I think there will be more bashing. Not everyone is accepting of it, and basically, if it becomes legal in the whole United States, it’s basically forcing our sexuality and our point of view down other peoples’ throats. Just because it’s legalized doesn’t mean people will be OK with it. Medical marijuana is legal too, but not everyone agrees with it,” said Martin.

Debbie Kingsley, family service counselor for Roseland Park Cemetery in Berkley, said she never realized before working at the cemetery that gay couples could be denied being buried together as well.

”When people come in after someone has died suddenly, they are just so emotionally distraught to begin with to even think, ‘What do you mean, I can’t be buried next to my partner?’ It can be very upsetting,” said Kingsley. “I’m guessing most people would never guess that could be an issue. I wanted to get the word out to prevent heartache in the future for families that are just trying to make arrangements.”

Michigan attorney Kevin McNulty said the only legal way to protect partnerships in Michigan is to sign a partnership agreement giving some legal force to their relationship. He also suggested partners name each other as Durable Power of Attorney, allowing them to speak on behalf of a partner if they are not able to speak for themselves.

LaCosch said she knows many medical personnel are not aware of this. “I talked to someone two weeks ago who was in a medical situation where his partner needed help. They had all the paperwork, they had the medical power of attorney, and still, the doctors and nurses would not let him go into the hospital room with his partner to help make medical decisions,” said LaCosch.

Martin said he wants Lodwig to be his Durable Power of Attorney. “If I’m on my death bed and hooked up to wires, it’s up to Jeremy (Lodwig) and my mom to determine if I should be kept on life support,” said Martin.

http://www.dailytribune.com/articles/2011/07/09/news/doc4e18e2aeb01c8051929851.txt?viewmode=fullstory
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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS — Gary Glenn says gay employees are bad hires because of health risks

“Being the ‘best and brightest’ is not defined by engaging in homosexual behavior, specifically because it’s not bright to engage in behavior medically associated with dramatically increased personal health risks,” (Christian rights activist Gary) Glenn alleged. People who are gay or lesbian are at ‘dramatically higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse and AIDS and cancer and hepatitis,’ he said during his radio interview about gay marriage with Linda Harvey of Mission America on July 2.

Glenn’s comments were targeted at office-furniture maker Herman Miller and other Holland-area companies that have said the City Council’s vote against expanding its anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation will hurt their efforts to recruit and retain the most talented employees.

‘What ridiculous folly to suggest that only those individuals who engage in homosexual behavior — given all of its severe medical consequences — constitute the best and the brightest,’ Glenn said. …’My point was to mock the suggestion that engaging in homosexual behavior defines a potential job applicant as the ‘best and brightest,’ he said.”

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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
Grand Rapids, Michigan
July 6, 2011

Conservative Christian activist Gary Glenn says gay
employees are bad hires because of health risks

by Shandra Martinez / The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Christian rights activist Gary Glenn says he wants to set the record straight after his comments about gay employees during a conservative radio show were picked up by liberal media outlets.

He didn’t say gay workers shouldn’t be hired but rather suggested they are not the “best and brightest” employees.

“Being the ‘best and brightest’ is not defined by engaging in homosexual behavior, specifically because it’s not bright to engage in behavior medically associated with dramatically increased personal health risks,” Glenn alleged.

People who are gay or lesbian are at “dramatically higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse and AIDS and cancer and hepatitis,” he said during his radio interview about gay marriage with Linda Harvey of “Mission America” on July 2.

Glenn’s comments were targeted at office-furniture maker Herman Miller and other Holland-area companies that have said the City Council’s vote against expanding its anti-discriminatory ordinance to include sexual orientation will hurt their efforts to recruit and retain the most talented employees.

“What ridiculous folly to suggest that only those individuals who engage in homosexual behavior given all of its severe medical consequences constitute the best and the brightest,” Glenn said.

While Glenn didn’t say gays shouldn’t be hired, Harvey did during the interview: “I would not think of a homosexual person as a good employment risk, I just wouldn’t.”

So why do the comments of Glenn, who lives in Midland, matter in Holland?

Glenn is offering to fund the campaigns of candidates running against City Council members who voted in favor of expanding the ordinance. Glenn is quick to point out that effort is done under his role as chairman of the Campaign for Michigan Families, a political action committee.

“My point was to mock the suggestion that engaging in homosexual behavior defines a potential job applicant as the ‘best and brightest,’” he said.

Those who support expanding the ordinance are focusing their efforts on trying to convince one of the five council members who voted against it to change his or her vote rather than trying to put the issue on the ballot.

Glenn says his and Harvey’s comments were edited and don’t include the sources he says that back up his contention that gay employees have more health issues than heterosexual employees.

“We are not talking abut a matter of opinions but scientific facts from mainstream organizations, the Center for Disease Control and by openly homosexual organizations,” said Glenn. “These facts are not in dispute.”

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2011/07/conservative_christian_activis.html
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HOLLAND SENTINEL — Bill Freeman will ask council to reconsider ("gay rights") non-discrimination ordinance

Homosexual activists and their political allies admit that
most support for a so-called “gay rights”/cross-dressing
ordinance came from outside the city and wouldn’t be
approved by city voters.

“Voters in the city of Holland will not decide if lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people should be protected by the city’s civil rights ordinances. …The decision was based on whether he believed a majority of the voters in the city of Holland would vote yes, (Bill Freeman, chaplain of Interfaith Congregation) said. He was swayed by much of the support for the ordinance change coming from outside of the city, he said. …Jay Peters, the only city council member present at Freeman’s announcement, said ‘it’s a prudent course of action.'”

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HOLLAND SENTINEL
Holland, Michigan
July 4, 2011

Bill Freeman will ask council to reconsider Lesbian-Gay-
Bisexual-Transgender non-discrimination ordinance

by Annette Manwell / The Holland Sentinel

Holland — Voters in the city of Holland will not decide if lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people should be protected by the city’s civil rights ordinances.

Bill Freeman, chaplain of Interfaith Congregation in Holland, announced Monday on the steps of Holland City Hall that his action will be to try to change the minds of the Holland City Council and that his goal is just one more council vote.

Freeman asked the city council more than a year ago to include the terms sexual orientation and gender identity in the city’s human relations and fair housing ordinance and equal employment opportunity policy. In April the Human Relations Commission agreed and sent a resolution to the city council for consideration. The resolution failed by a vote of 5-4.

Following that vote Freeman said he would start a petition drive for a ballot referendum. Monday he said instead that he will not rely on a majority to vote for the rights of a minority. His plan of action will be to attend every city council meeting to speak to members of council, educate them on LGBT issues and, because council meetings are broadcast on cable television, educate the public.

“We’re going to try to educate council further,” he said, adding that his hope is one more council vote. “Dr. (Martin Luther) King (Jr.) did not ask the people of Alabama to vote for the rights of black people.”

The decision was based on whether he believed a majority of the voters in the city of Holland would vote yes, Freeman said. He was swayed by much of support for the ordinance change was coming from outside of the city, he said.

One week ago, Holland is Ready, a local organization working to educate people about the LGBT community, announced it would not seek a vote but continue its goal to educate the public. At that time, Freeman said he was still considering a petition drive and was “still fact-finding.”

His announcement, made on the front steps of city hall, received applause from those in attendance.

Jay Peters, the only city council member present at Freeman’s announcement, said “it’s a prudent course of action.”

http://www.hollandsentinel.com/newsnow/x1672980367/Bill-Freeman-will-ask-council-to-reconsider-LGBT-non-discrimination-ordinance
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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS — Holland gay rights supporters announce plan to get anti-discrimination ordinance passed

Praise the Lord! Homosexual activists know what the outcome
of a ballot vote would be in a city where voters supported our
state Marriage Protection Amendment by 64 percent of the vote.

“Backers of a proposal to expand Holland’s anti-discrimination ordinance to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes will not pursue a ballot measure to overturn last month’s City Council vote against the proposal. Instead, supporters plan to attend Wednesday’s council meeting and all future meetings until one of the five council members who voted no changes their vote.”

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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
Grand Rapids, Michigan
July 4, 2011

Holland gay rights supporters announce plan
to get anti-discrimination ordinance passed

by Greg Chandler / The Grand Rapids Press

HOLLAND – Backers of a proposal to expand Holland’s anti-discrimination ordinance to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes will not pursue a ballot measure to overturn last month’s City Council vote against the proposal.

Instead, supporters plan to attend Wednesday’s council meeting and all future meetings until one of the five council members who voted no changes their vote.

“I don’t think you ask the majority to vote for the rights of the minority,” said Bill Freeman, chaplain of Interfaith Congregation, who has been campaigning for the proposal for more than a year. “I don’t think Dr. (Martin Luther) King asked the people of Alabama to vote for civil rights, and I don’t think you should ask the people of Holland to vote for equal rights for all.”

Supporters of the proposal would have had to get petition language approved by the city, and then collect at least 1,310 signatures by mid-August to put it on the November ballot.

The City Council voted 5-4 June 15 against amending the city’s human relations and fair housing ordinances, as well as its equal employment policy, to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We’re going to try to educate them and answer any questions they might have,” Freeman said of the supporters’ plans to attend council meetings.

About 100 people gathered on the steps of City Hall Monday morning for the announcement, with many representing organizations who favor including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in equal rights measures. Erin Wilson, of the group Until Love Is Equal, called it a regional and economic issue.

“In a recession, you have to be pragmatic,” said Wilson, of Grand Rapids. “Major employers are not going to come into a region that declares a particular community as unequal. They just won’t.”

Opponents of the measure cite religious and moral objections to homosexuality in their position, and say that existing anti-discrimination laws are adequate. One statewide political action group, the Michigan Campaign for Families, said it would support candidates to run against three council members who voted in favor of expanding the ordinance and who are up for re-election this year.

One of those three council members, Second Ward Councilman Jay Peters, called the decision not to seek a ballot proposal “prudent,” although he would not speculate whether any of the five council members who voted against the measure would change their mind.

“I think the timeline is tight (for a ballot proposal), and to be effective and successful, I’d like to see us regroup as a community and come at it from a different angle,” Peters said.

Mayor Kurt Dykstra cast the tiebreaking vote against expanding the ordinance. Others who voted against the proposal were Councilwoman Nancy DeBoer and Councilmen Mike Trethewey, Brian Burch and Todd Whiteman.

Voting in favor of the expansion were Peters, Mayor Pro Tem Bob Vande Vusse and Councilmen Dave Hoekstra and Shawn Miller.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/07/holland_gay_rights_supporters.html
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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS — Charley Honey: Gays not faring so well on the Lakeshore

“The Campaign for Michigan Families, affiliated with the American Family Association (of Michigan), wants to help Holland residents depose City Council members who voted but failed to expand the anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The AFA’s Gary Glenn vowed to support candidates running against those who ‘tried to impose homosexual activists’ political agenda on city residents.’ The AFA also sees the gay agenda behind some lawmakers’ efforts to include sexual orientation in a statewide anti-school bullying bill.”

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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
Grand Rapids, Michigan
June 25, 2011

(COLUMN)

Gays not faring so well on the Lakeshore

by Charley Honey | The Grand Rapids Press

Although I have been accused, at times, of pushing the so-called “gay agenda,” I must confess I don’t know what it is.
Is it a plan to recruit children to become gay? To include at least one gay character in every sitcom? To impose quotas on the NFL to draft gay linebackers?

Whatever it is, the gay agenda allegedly is running loose on the Lakeshore, judging from objections to recent gay-inclusion proposals there.
The Campaign for Michigan Families, affiliated with the American Family Association, wants to help Holland residents depose City Council members who voted but failed to expand the anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The AFA’s Gary Glenn vowed to support candidates running against those who “tried to impose homosexual activists’ political agenda on city residents.”

The AFA also sees the gay agenda behind some lawmakers’ efforts to include sexual orientation in a statewide anti-school bullying bill. Was fear of the gay agenda also a factor in the Saugatuck school board’s decision not to adopt a proposed coming-out video in its sex education unit on sexual harassment and bullying, even though gay students are more likely to suffer from that?

Not necessarily. Perhaps opponents simply agreed with board President Mike Van Loon that all bullying is wrong, whether “black, white, pink, purple, short, tall.”

What’s certain: Gay-rights advocates have not fared well on the Lakeshore this year. Include Hope College’s reaffirmation not to recognize campus groups contrary to the Reformed Church in America’s stance against gay relationships.

Religious debate

Religious communities are digging in on the gay issue, even as polls show more of them accepting homosexuality and gay marriage.

Pluralities of Catholics (46 percent) and white mainline Protestants (49 percent) now support gay marriage, while heavy majorities of white evangelicals (74 percent) and black Protestants (62 percent) oppose it, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center poll.

The numbers, while reflecting increasing acceptance on both personal and denominational levels, illustrate a deep persisting divide. Behind the polls, many people thoughtfully debate and discern the complexities. But the more public and polarized version pits the gay-agenda-pushers on one side against homophobes on the other.

Let’s be clear about something, that version’s played out. Just because someone opposes gay marriage doesn’t make her homophobic; she could be sincerely seeking to follow her faith and conscience. And just because someone favors it doesn’t mean he is pushing a broader agenda; he could be sincerely seeking, too.

It’s time for less demonizing and more listening in the middle.

A well-worn pastoral maxim calls for a “both-and” approach to challenging issues. Don’t divide the issue into a choice of either this position or that. Recognize both sides have something to offer and find ways to include both perspectives.

But the both-and option is in short supply in our either-or culture. When it comes to homosexuality, either you’re for legalizing gay marriage and ordaining gay ministers or not. The Bible says this; the Bible says that — end of story.

Where’s the middle ground?

As one who instinctively seeks the middle ground, I find it hard to locate here. How can you include both perspectives in such a basic clash of values? For Christians, there doesn’t seem much room for compromise between those who cite biblical passages condemning homosexual acts and those who see loving acceptance in the larger Scriptural story.

But there is room for protecting churches’ religious rights while ensuring gays’ civil rights. And there is room for listening even if you hold different views.

A lot of people still are working this out. Churches can provide a more inviting venue for people to listen to each other’s stories with respect and compassion.

Room for All is a Reformed Church in America group that seeks full participation of gays and lesbians in the RCA. While dismayed by the recent developments, Executive Director Marilyn Paarlberg says the group offers speakers to help congregations grapple graciously with the issue.
“We can find things that people on both sides of the issue can affirm, then we build from there,” Paarlberg said.

It’s a long-term construction project, but building beats tearing each other down. In a tearing-down culture, more churches should make building bridges their agenda.

http://www.mlive.com/living/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/06/charley_honey_gays_not_faring.html
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MICHIGAN MESSENGER — House Committee delays action on anti-bullying legislation, again

“The state legislature has been debating anti-bullying legislation for a decade. It continues to be hamstrung by a difference in opinion by advocates on both sides on whether or not to enumerate — meaning whether to create a list of the groups or traits most likely to be the victims of bullying. The opposition to enumeration is led by the American Family Association of Michigan. They argue enumeration is creating special rights for homosexuals and is really a Trojan horse designed to force schools to become accepting of homosexuality. In favor of enumeration are (homosexual activist) groups like Equality Michigan and the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN).”

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MICHIGAN MESSENGER
Lansing, Michigan
June 30, 2011

House Committee delays action on anti-bullying legislation, again
Ten years and counting for anti-bullying law to pass

by Todd A. Heywood

http://michiganmessenger.com/50376/house-committee-delays-action-on-anti-bullying-legislation-again
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HOLLAND SENTINEL — (Homosexual group) rejects ballot move for gay anti-discrimination initiative

Homosexual activist groups know they would not win a vote
of the people in a city where 64 percent of voters supported
Michigan’s Marriage Protection Amendment. But it doesn’t
mean they’re giving up.

“A gay rights group will not attempt a ballot initiative to amend a city ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity.”

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HOLLAND SENTINEL
Holland, Michigan
June 28, 2011

Holland is Ready rejects ballot move
for gay anti-discrimination initiative

by Annette Manwell

Holland — A gay rights group will not attempt a ballot initiative to amend a city ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The decision was made at a Monday meeting of the group. It comes less than two weeks after the Holland City Council denied a request by Bill Freeman, chaplain of Interfaith Congregation, to include the language in its human relations and fair housing ordinances and the equal employment opportunity policy. The council referred Freeman’s request to the city’s Human Relations Commission, which, after almost a year of study, in April recommended that the council include the terms.

A 5-4 vote on June 15 by the city council has forced groups in favor of the inclusion in other directions.

“The vote was a very close one,” the Rev. Jennifer Adams, pastor of Grace Episcopal Church in Holland and spokeswoman for Holland is Ready, wrote in an email. “It’s obvious that Holland, as a community, is moving in the direction of inclusion and equal rights for all.”

“I’m surprised by (Holland is Ready’s) decision; that’s unfortunate,” said city Councilman Brian Burch, who voted against adding the language. He said before the council vote that he was in favor of a ballot initiative.

Holland is Ready “will take the approach of furthering conversation, education and creative initiatives with businesses, local government and organizations who are also working toward enhancing diversity and inclusion,” wrote Adams.

“That’s great, there’s opportunity in that,” was Burch’s response, adding it is necessary to “build understanding for equal and individual rights.”

Until Love is Equal, another group working for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Holland, was more divided after the Holland is Ready meeting Monday, said Drew Stoppels, lead spokesman for Until Love is Equal.

Many members of Until Love is Equal attended the meeting, he said, and remain in favor of asking Holland voters to include the language. Stoppels, however, is not, saying there is not adequate time before the election to leap all the legal hurdles.

Activists would need to draft petition and ballot language, have it approved by the city’s election commission and obtain 1,310 signatures in the next few weeks in order for the issue to be on the November ballot.

Until Love is Equal’s Facebook page has grown to 2,300 fans. The group is planning two radio shows and has launched a website since it formed, the day after the council vote.
Following the June 15 vote, Freeman said he would pursue a ballot initiative.

Freeman said Tuesday, he is undecided and has concerns about asking the majority for rights of a minority. He plans to make a final decision after meeting with Mayor Kurt Dykstra later this week.

“I am taking some time to discern what’s the best course of action,” Freeman said.

Whatever the next step, it presents an opportunity, Adams said.

“While we were disappointed with the (June 15) vote, the actual process revealed significant momentum toward establishing equality and fairness for all,” she wrote. “As Holland is Ready, we plan to continue to help reveal the vibrant, diverse, welcoming community we’re being given the opportunity to be.”

“I think there’s a spirit of inclusion in Holland,” Burch said. “We do have an amazingly diverse community. We have a lot going for us.”

http://www.hollandsentinel.com/topstories/x2069930711/Holland-is-Ready-rejects-ballot-move-for-gay-anti-discrimination-initiative
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WZZM-TV — Attacks follow Holland's gay rights 'no' vote

“The Holland City Council defeated a proposal that would add sexual orientation to the city’s civil rights policy. …Since then, Michigan anti-gay rights crusader Gary Glenn has called the proposal ‘dangerous.’ Glenn is the president of the American Family Association and (chairman of) the Campaign for Michigan Families. He tells WZZM 13 News that (CMF) will financially help support candidates who run against any of the three council members who voted yes for the failed proposal and are involved in the city’s upcoming election.”

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WZZM-TV CHANNEL 13
Grand Rapids, Michigan
June 20, 2011

Attacks follow Holland’s gay rights no vote

by Steve Patterson and Jessica Puchala

HOLLAND, Mich. — Holland City Council members who voted in favor of amending an ordinance to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation are now facing an organized effort to remove them from office.

The Holland City Council defeated a proposal that would add sexual orientation to the city’s civil rights policy.

The proposed amendment was brought to the city council to protect gay citizens against discrimination. The proposal was defeated in a 5-to-4 split decision.

Since then, Michigan anti-gay rights crusader Gary Glenn has called the proposal “dangerous.”

Glenn is the President of the American Family Association and The Campaign for Michigan Families. He tells WZZM 13 News that his organization will financially help support candidates who run against any of the three council members who voted yes for the failed proposal and are involved in the city’s upcoming election.

“I think we need to lose this image that we are a little too conservative an unwelcoming,” said 2nd Ward Commissioner Jay Peters. “These kinds of things from the American Family Association only try to keep that going.”

Peters is one of the council members who voted yes and is the only among three members running for re-election who is challenged by opponents. The deadline to file was May 10. Any other challengers will have to write in. Glenn promises support.

“There’s got to be a place where Mr. Glenn has got to focus his interest and try to do some good somewhere else,” said Peters.

Meanwhile, a movement on Facebook to boycott Holland business is growing. A group called “I’m Boycotting Holland Until Love is =” now has close to 500 members.

“It’s a knee-jerk reaction,” said Business Owner Bob Schulze.

Schulze owns Globe Vision in downtown, Holland. He calls the movement shortsighted and ironic, saying that he and many area business owners supported the measure.

“I’m not that upset and I’m really not that nervous,” he said. “I think they will see that they probably don’t want to hurt the businesses that are for the issue.”

http://www.wzzm13.com/news/article/169424/2/Attacks-follow-Hollands-gay-rights-no-vote
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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS — Michigan anti-bullying legislation advocates disagree over language in stalled bill

“A (bullying) bill calling itself ‘Matt’s Safe School Law’ awaits a vote in the Senate. It requires public school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies and submit them to the state. … It does not include language, as does another proposed bill, that specifies a student’s real or perceived race, religion and sexual orientation in its definition of bullying. The American Family Association (of Michigan) has objected to that language as ‘a Trojan horse for homosexual activists’ political agenda.’”

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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
Grand Rapids, Michigan
June 18, 2011

Michigan anti-bullying legislation advocates
disagree over language in stalled bill

by Charley Honey

Those concerned about bullying agree schools need policies to discourage it. What they can’t agree on is what those policies should say.

State legislation requiring public schools to have such policies has yet to be adopted in Lansing after 10 years of pushing by advocates. The State Board of Education in 2001 asked districts to adopt policies and issued a model policy in 2006. Michigan is one of only five states without such laws, Gov. Rick Snyder pointed out in urging passage of a bill.

“One of the reasons this bill’s been stalled for so long is we have adults saying ‘This is what we want,’ not ‘This is what our kids need,’” said Kevin Epling, co-director of Bully Police USA, whose son, Matt, committed suicide in 2002.

A bill calling itself “Matt’s Safe School Law” awaits a vote in the Senate. It requires public school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies and submit them to the state. It does not apply to private schools.

Epling calls it a “much reduced version” of the originally proposed Matt’s law and hopes it is strengthened. It does not include language, as does another proposed bill, that specifies a student’s real or perceived race, religion and sexual orientation in its definition of bullying.

The American Family Association has objected to that language as “a Trojan horse for homosexual activists’ political agenda.”
Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, the bill’s sponsor, says such “enumeration” language isn’t needed.

“I think a child shouldn’t be bullied, whether they be gay or obese or have red hair,” said Jones, whose district includes Barry and Allegan counties. “If we start having enumerations in there, we could be back every six months putting in a new classification.”

Religious schools keep pace

Local Christian and Catholic schools have their own policies but are keeping an eye on the state legislation.

“Our Student Dignity Policy has been adequate for us in the past, but with a new policy coming from the state, we should
probably take a look at that,” said Dave Faber, superintendent of Catholic schools.

The Catholic secondary schools’ policy prohibits sexual and racial harassment, including threats, name-calling and posting “harmful information on the Internet.”

“The Gospel doesn’t just call us to tolerance of one another, it calls us to love one another,” Faber said. “That’s what we’re bringing to students.”

Policy revision

The Grand Rapids Christian Schools board Monday is slated to approve revisions to its policy on bullying. The policy includes consequences but also ways to reconcile those who bully back into the school community, Superintendent Tom DeJonge said.

“We talk about how students are to be treated in love, whether they’re the guilty party or not,” DeJonge said, “and that, in Christ, we provide supports and resources for those that have been harmed as well as those doing the harming.

“It doesn’t mean there’s not punishment, but it’s also about rebuilding a community that’s been broken.”

http://www.mlive.com/living/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/06/michigan_anti-bullying_legisla.html
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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS — Anti-gay rights activist Gary Glenn poo-poos suggestion for Holland ballot issue

GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
Grand Rapids, Michigan
June 19, 2011

Polpourri

Anti-gay rights activist Gary Glenn poo-
poos suggestion for Holland ballot issue

After Holland City Council refused to add sexual orientation to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinances by a 5-4 vote last week, some suggested the question be put to Holland residents. Anti-gay rights activist Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, said such a ballot issue would fare no better than same-sex marriage did in Holland during a 2004 statewide referendum.

“It will be soundly rejected … in a community that voted 64 percent in favor of the Marriage Protection Amendment,” Glenn said.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/06/polpourri_for_june_19_anti-gay.html
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