|To AFA-Michigan supporters…
This letter from American Family Association of Indiana is so good on several points that I want to share it with you. Thanks as always for your support!
Dozens of Congressmen
This week, 41 members of Congress signed on to a federal appeals court brief that defends Indiana state law preventing Hoosier tax dollars from going to subsidize the abortion industry.
The friend of the court brief from the American Center for Law and Justice follows an earlier brief from the Thomas Moore Law Center in which 60 state legislators signed on to defend the new law. The legal briefs are part of the stateâ€™s appeal of a lower court ruling by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, which put the new law on hold and restored tax funding to Planned Parenthood.
The ACLJ brief argues for Indianaâ€™s right to set parameters for Medicaid recipients. They note, â€œFederal Medicaid statutes and regulations give States broad discretion to craft the rules applicable to their Medicaid programs. Congress left intact the Statesâ€™ authority to determine what makes an entity qualified to provide Medicaid services, 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1396a(p)(1), while ensuring that Medicaid recipients may utilize any practitioner deemed to be qualified under State law, 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1396a(a)(23). Since HEA 1210 does not limit a beneficiaryâ€™s ability to choose among providers that are deemed to be qualified, it is consistent with federal Medicaid law.â€
This stateâ€™s rights argument has been mentioned in many news reports. Perhaps more interesting is another argument in the ACLJ brief that urges the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn the lower court decision. It attacks Planned Parenthood and the ACLUâ€™s â€œnovel claim that abortion providers have a constitutional right to perform abortions and receive public funds; if accepted, this argument would unduly restrict the policy discretion that Congress and state and local governments have to decide how to spend public funds.â€ Calling the abortion industryâ€™s audacious claim to a constitutional right to our tax dollars â€œnovelâ€ is kind to say the least.
The ACLJ brief is signed by the following members of the U.S. House of Representatives:
The Term â€œPro-Choiceâ€ May
Speaking of abortion, a new poll from Gallup has some very interesting findings. The proponents of abortion often claim that most Americans are â€œpro-choiceâ€ when it comes to abortion. There are recent surveys challenging this assertion in terms of the self-identification between being pro-life or pro-choice. Even if most Americans are â€œpro-choice,â€ it probably doesnâ€™t mean what you think or what abortion advocates imply.
The Gallup survey of â€œpro-choiceâ€ Americans actually finds that most of these people agree with pro-life Americans on nine significant areas. For example, 86% of â€œpro-choiceâ€ individuals favor informed consent legislation which gives women information about abortion and alternatives beforehand. Two-thirds (63%) of â€œpro-choiceâ€ Americans favor banning the grisly partial birth abortion procedure. Sixty-percent support parental consent laws for minors seeking an abortion. Half (52%) of â€œpro-choiceâ€ Americans want abortions to be made illegal after the second trimester and 79% want third trimester abortions outlawed. One major difference is that most (64%) â€œpro-choiceâ€ Americans support abortion as a means of birth control in the first trimester.
As noted in previous surveys, Gallup has also reconfirmed that those who attend regular religious services (â€œchurchgoersâ€) are twice as likely to be pro-life compared to those who rarely or never attend church services.
The Tail Wagging the Dog
I had a media interview late last week in regard to new US Census Bureau data showing numbers homosexual households in Indiana. When asked if I was surprised at the numbers, I said yes, not at their large size, but at how that minority are given the disproportional political and cultural influence homosexuals wield.
I have similar numbers from the year prior to those the reporter cited, and they are revealing. (Keep in mind that a recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans mistakenly believe that 25% of the US population is homosexual or bi-sexual. In reality that number is less than 3%.)
In Indiana, based upon Census Bureau data released in April 2010, there were only 10,200 same-sex couples living together in Indiana. Contrast this with 1,251,500 married Hoosier couples and same-sex couples account for just three-tenths of one percent of the household population in Indiana. In state after state, this percentage is nearly the same. Nationally the percentage of same-sex couples compared to married households is only 0.4%.
Some would argue that if homosexuals currently living together and therefore most likely to marry are so few, what is the harm of un-defining marriage. (For all of their claims of needing to redefine marriage when given the chance to â€œmarryâ€ in Europe or in states like Massachusetts, relatively few homosexuals actually do so. Most reject marriage, raising questions about their claims of disadvantage, denied rights, property sharing difficulties and marriage inequality.)
The real question is if the numbers are so small, why disrupt society by further devaluing marriage, rewriting school curricula, limiting religious speech, closing faith-based charities and other problems associated with same-sex marriage just to appease a very vocal, yet small 0.3% of cohabiting population? What of other behaviors and lifestyle choices? Must marriage be redefined to accommodate them too?
Given the societal importance of marriage and the traditional family, discarding the logical time-tested boundaries of marriage to appease a vocal, and tiny special interest group when poll after poll shows most Americans want marriage to remain as it always has been truly is a radical notion.
One Reason Why the Tail
In light of the data above, a logical question one may ask is why is American culture so pro-gay and morally decadent in virtually every way imaginable? May I suggest that the one-in-four of Americans who identify themselves as evangelical Christians are not following the Biblical directive to be â€œsalt and light.â€ A staggering majority, betwene 76% and 78%, of Americans still identify themselves a Christians.
Why, given such large demographic numbers, is the culture so hostile to basic traditional values, parents, children, faith, etc? There are several reasons for this problem. One of them was found in a survey of pastors from Your Church Magazine that I mentioned in a recent weekly AFA-IN e-mail. The survey found that more than half of the ministers (55%) surveyed admitted that they would not preach at all or only sparingly on certain subjects. Nearly four-in-ten (38%) listed politics as the top subject they would avoid. One-in-four said that they would not mention homosexuality. When it came to the issue of abortion, 18% said that they would not mention this subject from the pulpit. Nearly one-in-ten said that they would not mention the subject or doctrine of Hell.
It is not as though God does not have things to say about these subjects and the issues of the day as revealed in His Word. The primary reason cited for avoiding certain subjects was that it might negatively impact church attendance. Yet, if the pulpits of our nation are silent on the issues its congregants confront daily in news headlines and the culture, how can we expect folks to live counter-culturally rather than mirroring everything around them?
(By the way, I am very excited about a new book coming out in a few weeks from Hoosier talk show host, Peter Heck, precisely about this issue of being salt and light in the world and taking back the culture. You can learn more about his book here: http://www.peterheck.com/78)
The church serves a role as the conscience of a nation, and unlike most government programs, faith changes lives from the inside out. Still, cultural change does not rest solely at the feet of the church. This is where groups like AFA of Indiana play a vital part. Your financial and prayer support of AFA-IN is always welcome and helpful. If you would like to stand with us, you can make a tax-deductible donation online or mail one to us at: PO Box 40307, Indianapolis, IN 46240.
|Dear AFA-Michigan supporter,
Please read the Detroit Free Press article below, then please take advantage of this rare opportunity to encourage a Democratic elected official in Michigan willing to stand up to militant homosexual activists’ political agenda of intolerance and discrimination.
Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, Democratic Floor Leader in the state Senate, is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 518, which would prohibit universities from discriminating against Christian counseling students who refuse to compromise their faith while counseling patients. The legislation comes in response to Eastern Michigan University’s expulsion of Julea Ward, a 4.3 GPA Christian counseling student who refused to counsel a patient on how to improve his homosexual relationship.
Sen. Hunter is getting beat up by homosexual activists and his fellow Democrats for daring defend Julea Ward and other Christian students. Please call or e-mail Sen. Hunter today and thank him for sponsoring SB 518.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 517-373-0994
And please contact your state Senator today and urge him to support SB 518. Click here to find your state senator’s contact informatoin: http://www.senate.michigan.gov/FindYourSenator/byaddress.htm
Thanks as always for your support of AFA-Michigan’s stand for Michigan families and traditional family values. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution today — which is especially critical during the summer months when contributions are down — please do so by credit card at http://bit.ly/oggsCk or by mail to AFA-Michigan, PO Box 1904, Midland, MI 48641.
Thanks again, and God bless and strengthen you and your family!
DETROIT FREE PRESS
Democrat’s bill would let counseling
by David Jesse / Detroit Free Press Staff Writer
Sen. Tupac Hunter
Ever since Julea Ward sued Eastern Michigan University, saying it kicked her out of the counseling program when she refused to counsel a gay client, Republican politicians have lined up to offer her support.
But a new bill designed to give counseling students the freedom to decline to counsel clients based on religious beliefs or moral conviction adds a wrinkle to the debate — it was drafted by Sen. Tupac Hunter, the Senate’s Democratic floor leader.
“I firmly believe that it is wrong for any institution of higher learning in this state to expel a student from a program because of their refusal to compromise their own belief system,” Hunter said in a statement. His office said Tuesday he was unavailable for interviews on the topic.
In her initial lawsuit, filed in 2009, Ward alleged EMU dismissed her from its graduate counseling program after she declined to counsel a gay client and instead referred the client to another counselor.
EMU responded that it dismissed her from the program for failing to fulfill curricular requirements and for not following the American Counseling Association’s code of ethics.
A federal judge ruled in favor of EMU in 2010. Ward has appealed that ruling.
Special interest groups from both sides of the political spectrum weighed in with support briefs.
Republican politicians tried this year to put language into higher education budget bills to have universities report to the Legislature on how they would “protect” counseling students’ “deeply held religious beliefs.”
This bill is different.
It would be called the Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act and would ban universities from dismissing students who declined to counsel clients because of conflicting religious beliefs. If dismissed, a student could ask a court to be reinstated.
“I believe a student should not be forced into a situation in which he/she would have to provide treatment that compromises their religious or moral convictions or requires them to conceal their values conflict in order to avoid expulsion from a degree program,” Hunter said in the statement. “How is this good for the student or the client, especially? There is no dishonor to the profession nor harm done to the client by simply referring him/her to another individual who can best assist the client in meeting his/her established goals for counseling.”
EMU spokesman Geoff Larcom said the university will cooperate with the Legislature’s mandate if the bill makes it into law. However, he reiterated EMU’s position that Ward’s dismissal had nothing to do with her religious beliefs.
|“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 AFAâ€™s Gary Glenn vowed to support candidates running against those who ‘tried to impose homosexual activistsâ€™ political agenda on city residents.’ The AFA also sees the gay agenda behind some lawmakersâ€™ efforts to include sexual orientation in a statewide anti-school bullying bill.”
GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
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 â€œgay agenda,â€ I must confess I donâ€™t know what it is.
Whatever it is, the gay agenda allegedly is running loose on the Lakeshore, judging from objections to recent gay-inclusion proposals there.
The AFA also sees the gay agenda behind some lawmakersâ€™ 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 boardâ€™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 â€œblack, white, pink, purple, short, tall.â€
Whatâ€™s certain: Gay-rights advocates have not fared well on the Lakeshore this year. Include Hope Collegeâ€™s reaffirmation not to recognize campus groups contrary to the Reformed Church in Americaâ€™s stance against gay relationships.
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.
Letâ€™s be clear about something, that versionâ€™s played out. Just because someone opposes gay marriage doesnâ€™t make her homophobic; she could be sincerely seeking to follow her faith and conscience. And just because someone favors it doesnâ€™t mean he is pushing a broader agenda; he could be sincerely seeking, too.
Itâ€™s time for less demonizing and more listening in the middle.
A well-worn pastoral maxim calls for a â€œboth-andâ€ approach to challenging issues. Donâ€™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 youâ€™re for legalizing gay marriage and ordaining gay ministers or not. The Bible says this; the Bible says that â€” end of story.
Whereâ€™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 doesnâ€™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 churchesâ€™ religious rights while ensuring gaysâ€™ 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 otherâ€™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.
Itâ€™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.
|“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 â€” 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).”
House Committee delays action on anti-bullying legislation, again
by Todd A. Heywood
|“A (bullying) bill calling itself ‘Mattâ€™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 studentâ€™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 activistsâ€™ political agenda.’â€
GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
Michigan anti-bullying legislation advocates
by Charley Honey
Those concerned about bullying agree schools need policies to discourage it. What they canâ€™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.
â€œOne of the reasons this billâ€™s been stalled for so long is we have adults saying â€˜This is what we want,â€™ not â€˜This is what our kids need,â€™â€ said Kevin Epling, co-director of Bully Police USA, whose son, Matt, committed suicide in 2002.
A bill calling itself â€œMattâ€™s Safe School Lawâ€ 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 â€œmuch reduced versionâ€ of the originally proposed Mattâ€™s law and hopes it is strengthened. It does not include language, as does another proposed bill, that specifies a studentâ€™s real or perceived race, religion and sexual orientation in its definition of bullying.
The American Family Association has objected to that language as â€œa Trojan horse for homosexual activistsâ€™ political agenda.â€
â€œI think a child shouldnâ€™t be bullied, whether they be gay or obese or have red hair,â€ said Jones, whose district includes Barry and Allegan counties. â€œIf we start having enumerations in there, we could be back every six months putting in a new classification.â€
Religious schools keep pace
Local Christian and Catholic schools have their own policies but are keeping an eye on the state legislation.
â€œOur Student Dignity Policy has been adequate for us in the past, but with a new policy coming from the state, we should
The Catholic secondary schoolsâ€™ policy prohibits sexual and racial harassment, including threats, name-calling and posting â€œharmful information on the Internet.â€
â€œThe Gospel doesnâ€™t just call us to tolerance of one another, it calls us to love one another,â€ Faber said. â€œThatâ€™s what weâ€™re bringing to students.â€
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.
â€œWe talk about how students are to be treated in love, whether theyâ€™re the guilty party or not,â€ DeJonge said, â€œand that, in Christ, we provide supports and resources for those that have been harmed as well as those doing the harming.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t mean thereâ€™s not punishment, but itâ€™s also about rebuilding a community thatâ€™s been broken.â€
|“The action drew the praise of the anti-gay American Family Association of Michigan. Gary Glenn, president of the group, had this to say in a press release: ‘Mayor Dykstra and the city council were right to have the courage to reject demands by homosexual activists and their allies for this discriminatory ordinance,’ Glenn said.”
Holland, Mich. city council rejects legislation prohibiting
by Todd A. Heywood
HOLLAND, Mich. — The Holland City Council has rejected legislation which would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
WWMT reports the meeting went until nearly midnight, and resulted in a 5 to 4 vote. Nearly 200 people packed the cityâ€™s council chambers to express their opinions on the legislation.
Holland has come under continuing pressure on this issue over the last couple of years. Oscar winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black was in the area shooting a film, and was invited to the campus of Hope College, a private higher education institution.
However, the invitation was rescinded when Black was told he could not talk about gay rights. This move led Black and others to create an outside event to discuss LGBT issues in the conservative town. It also led to the formation of a group of Hope graduates who lobbied the college to change its policies on homosexuality, which the college has declined to do.
Black won the Oscar for his screenplay Milk, which told the story of gay icon Harvey Milk. Milk, along with San Francisco Mayor George Mascone, were murdered by former supervisor Dan White. Milk was widely recognized as the first openly gay person to hold a political position in a large city in the United States.
The action drew the praise of the anti-gay American Family Association of Michigan. Gary Glenn, president of the group, had this to say in a press release:
â€œMayor Dykstra and the city council were right to have the courage to reject demands by homosexual activists and their allies for this discriminatory ordinance,â€ Glenn said. â€œIn other cities and states, these so-called â€˜sexual orientationâ€™ laws have proven to themselves be discriminatory, being used to discriminate against and punish individual Christians, strip churches of their tax-exempt status, punish Christian business owners, and discriminate against and violate the civil rights and religious freedom of cherished community groups such as the Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities who refuse to endanger children by endorsing homosexual activistsâ€™ political agenda.â€
|Which means, from our perspective,
one of the “best in the country”…
When reading the dramatic testimonial below to AFA-Michigan’s effectiveness in protecting the institution of marriage in Michigan, please note these points of history:
* AFA-Michigan took responsibility for providing leadership on the issue, being the first organization (and a thereafter unrelenting voice) to publicly call for passage of a Marriage Protection Amendment to Michigan’s state constitution. Starting in June 2003 the day an Ontario, Canada court declared so-called homosexual “marriage” legal right across the bridge from Detroit, Port Huron, and Sault Ste. Marie.
* AFA-Michigan President Gary Glenn and Ave Maria University Law School Professor Pat Gillen co-authored the actual language of Michigan’s amendment, now used as a model for other states’ marriage amendments.
* AFA-Michigan’s Glenn was one of the primary public and media spokespersons statewide throughout the seven-month month petition drive and ballot campaign in support of the amendment, which was approved by nearly 60 percent of Michigan voters in November 2004.
* After voter approval, Glenn was asked to help coach and prepare the trial attorneys of Attorney General Mike Cox’s office who successfully defended the Marriage Protection Amendment before the Michigan Supreme Court.
* The Supreme Court quoted or cited AFA-Michigan’s arguments three times in its 5-to-2 decision upholding the Marriage Protection Amendment and its full enforcement.
* An even more recent poll than the one cited in the article below showed just how broad support for Michigan’s amendment is. According to a September 2009 poll by Lansing Democratic pollster Mark Grebner, 90 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents, and half of all Democrats in Michigan said they would vote against a ballot measure seeking to repeal the amendment.
This powerful testimonial is just the latest tribute to AFA-Michigan’s effectiveness, and further proof of the substantive return on the investment you make in supporting our work. Please read the article below.
Then, please renew or increase your investment today in a strong, unflinching, and effective voice for marriage and traditional family values in Michgan. Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card online here: http://bit.ly/kuE98X. Or by mail to AFA-Michigan, PO Box 1904, Midland, MI 48641.
Thank you, and God bless and strengthen you and your family!
“Michiganâ€™s constitutional (Marriage Protection Amendment) amendment forbids the recognition of same-sex marriages ‘as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.’ …’One of the worst in the country’ â€” thatâ€™s how Tobias Barrington Wolff, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, described Michiganâ€™s anti-gay-marriage amendment. Wolff was chief adviser and spokesman for Barack Obama on Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender issues during the 2007-08 campaign. …Super-DOMAs like Michiganâ€™s or Virginiaâ€™s ban all forms of recognition for same-sex relationships.
When looking at Michigan, (City University of New York political science professor Daniel) Pinello concluded that one development was the most significant of all. The first and only time a state Supreme Court brought the super-DOMA hammer down on lesbian and gay couples was in National Pride at Work, Inc. v. Governor of Michigan (2008), where the court interpreted the words ‘or similar union for any purpose’ of Proposal 2 to bar health insurance benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. Pinello called it ‘the clearest example of an actual, tangible, statewide loss for gay and lesbian couples’ in the nation based on a super-DOMA.
‘They were wily,’ Pinello said of Proposal 2â€™s Michigan backers. ‘They intended to immortalize the opinion of the day into the future.'”
State of tarnished pride
Despite cultural and social gains, Proposal
by Lawrence Cosentino
In 2000, Michael Falk came to Ann Arbor with his partner, Matthew, to begin a promising career in materials science. He was 31 years old. By 2002, Falkâ€™s teaching and research at the University of Michigan earned him an Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation.
Falk works with the tiniest bits of semiconductor crystals and other nano-stuff thatâ€™s crucial to cutting-edge computer technology. He studies how these substances fail under high temperature. Everything has a breaking point.
Last year, thanks to Michiganâ€™s 2004 anti-gay constitutional amendment and its ongoing legislative and legal fallout, Falk moved to Baltimoreâ€™s Johns Hopkins University to build his â€œlifetime of leadershipâ€ in another state. He and his partner were married in Washington last summer.
â€œIt just felt like we were under attack,â€ Falk said. â€œIt made us reconsider our long-term desire to make Michigan our home.â€
Despite a dramatic rise in public acceptance of gay and lesbian rights among a wider public, Proposal 2 and its chain reactions continue to make Michigan radioactive for much of the LGBT community.
Michiganâ€™s constitutional amendment forbids the recognition of same-sex marriages â€œas a marriage or similar union for any purpose.â€
No matter how fast gays and lesbians gain social or cultural acceptance, no matter how many local human rights ordinances are passed, no matter how many shows of support come from this or that straight institution, Proposal 2 hangs like a sword of Damocles over the LBGT community, making Michigan seem like a hostile environment.
â€œOne of the worst in the countryâ€ â€” thatâ€™s how Tobias Barrington Wolff, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, described Michiganâ€™s anti-gay-marriage amendment. Wolff was chief adviser and spokesman for Barack Obama on LGBT issues during the 2007-08 campaign.
â€œIt just seems like a gratuitous effort to punish and be cruel toward three or four hundred thousand Michigan citizens,â€ Wolff said. â€œIt makes it harder for them to find the person theyâ€™re going to share their life with, make a happy and successful home together and contribute to a larger community.â€
The stories drip from Lansing, week by week. When state universities tried to find another way to extend benefits to same-sex couples, legislators moved to cut their state funding by an extra 5 percent. When the Civil Service Commission voted to extend the benefits to state employees, the attorney general sued to stop them. Thanks to Proposal 2, these countermoves and others like them can fly under color of â€œthe law of the landâ€ and â€œthe will of the people.â€ But the political headlines donâ€™t begin to describe how Proposal 2 has affected life in Michigan, not just for gays and lesbians, but for everyone.
Attack of the super-DOMA
A New York researcher has begun the first systematic study on how constitutional amendments like Michiganâ€™s affect individual lives. Daniel Pinello, a professor of political science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, has a name for amendments like Michiganâ€™s. He calls them â€œsuper-DOMAs,â€ after the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
In Pinelloâ€™s lingo, â€œmini-DOMAs,â€ like Californiaâ€™s famous Proposition 8 or Oregonâ€™s Measure 36, only limit marriage to one man and one woman. Super-DOMAs like Michiganâ€™s or Virginiaâ€™s ban all forms of recognition for same-sex relationships.
Wolff calls them â€œdesperate attempts to amend state constitutions to turn gay people into second-class citizens.â€ The broad language of super-DOMAs gave birth to an unpredictable, hydra-headed legal monster in Michigan.
Pinello is working on a book about the national flare-up of anti-gay constitutional amendments and its consequences. He has released a preliminary study focusing on four or the 19 states with super-DOMAs, including Michigan. For the study, he interviewed 23 same-sex couples in Michigan (75 couples in all).
Pinello kept the names confidential, but he found the tentacles of Proposal 2 extending into unexpected corners of LGBT lives.
He found direct consequences even before came here to do research in 2009. By coincidence, one of his colleagues at CUNY went to law school in Michigan with her lesbian partner. In 2004, shortly after Proposition 2 passed, the woman was offered a position at the University of Michigan.
â€œThis couple agonized for a couple of weeks,â€ Pinello said. Had they moved, they would have been reunited with a large extended family and enjoyed a drastically lower cost of living.
But the couple didnâ€™t return to Michigan.
â€œThey told me they just couldnâ€™t do it, given the legal environment,â€ Pinello said.
While doing research in Michigan, Pinello talked to a tenured professor at Oakland University, 15 years older than her partner, who had to back out of buying a â€œperfect houseâ€ near campus. The house was in an area reserved for Oakland University staff and spouses. If the professor died, she was told, her partner would have to leave the house.
Pinello also interviewed an heiress living in a northern suburb of Detroit. The heiressâ€™s grandparents set up a trust that left a large estate to her, her two brothers and their â€œlegal spouses.â€
The heiress and her lesbian partner have been together for 20 years, but if she dies, her partner would get nothing while her brothersâ€™ wives would have full shares.
â€œThereâ€™s nothing they can do to get the partner recognized,â€ Pinello said.
To make the case more perverse, the brothers and their wives offered to welcome their sisterâ€™s partner into the family in some official way, but the trustee refused to hear them.
Pinello also talked with a student at the University of Michigan medical school who had tried to persuade a friend, a top hospital administrator in New England, to apply for a similar job at U. of M.
The friend, a lesbian, wouldnâ€™t consider applying for the position, given the legal status of gays and lesbians in Michigan.
Pinello said he has only found the tip of the iceberg. He pointed out that his respondents, found via the Gay Yellow Pages, were relatively well heeled and educated.
â€œI didnâ€™t have access to the most heart-rending stories, which are going on out in the hinterlands,â€ he said. â€œPeople are schoolteachers and canâ€™t get health insurance for their partners, theyâ€™re raising children and theyâ€™re frightened to talk to anyone. The more telling stories are probably invisible.â€
When looking at Michigan, Pinello concluded that one development was the most significant of all.
The first, and only, time a state Supreme Court brought the super-DOMA hammer down on lesbian and gay couples was in National Pride at Work, Inc. v. Governor of Michigan (2008), where the court interpreted the words â€œor similar union for any purposeâ€ of Proposal 2 to bar health insurance benefits for same-sex partners of state employees.
Pinello called it â€œthe clearest example of an actual, tangible, statewide loss for gay and lesbian couplesâ€ in the nation based on a super-DOMA.
But there were also intangible losses, harder to quantify but no less damaging.
â€œThe effects of Super-DOMAs on same-sex couples, revealed time and again in interviews, are fear and depression,â€ Pinello said.
There are many painful questions gays and lesbians must ask themselves if they live in Michigan. Will we end up in separate nursing homes? Will a biological son or daughter assert legally recognized rights and contest a document? Will I be able to visit a loved one in the hospital?
Same-sex pairs in Michigan repeatedly told Pinello they would be fearful to be hospitalized anywhere in the state except Ann Arbor.
Only 28 percent of the couples Pinello interviewed felt confident their legal papers (wills, living wills, durable powers of attorney, health care proxies, etc.) would be honored when the time came, especially if they met with illness or accident away from home.
Penny Gardner, president of Lansing Association for Human Rights, is familiar with these fears.
Gardner doesnâ€™t care much about marriage (â€œitâ€™s patriarchal and Christian and phhhhhâ€) but cares about the legal and civic recognition it would bring.
â€œIâ€™m virtually married to my partner, Marilyn, for 15 years, but she has no legal standing,â€ Gardner said. â€œâ€My kids do. Theyâ€™re fine kids, but whoâ€™s to know?â€
The irony of Proposal 2 is that Michiganâ€™s electorate may already be feeling remorse for the full-body, gay-bashing tattoo it impulsively bought in 2004.
Poll numbers are shifting fast, especially for a hot-button social issue. When the Glengariff Group conducted a random survey of registered Michigan voters in June 2009, pollsters found a â€œseismic shift among Michigan voters on the issue of gay marriage and civil unionsâ€ since October 2004. Support for civil unions went from 42 percent to 63.7 percent, a 52 percent increase. Support for gay marriage went from 24 to 46.5 percent, a 94 percent increase.
In a milestone CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Tuesday, April 19, 51 percent said they think marriages between lesbians and gay couples should be recognized as legal, up from 44 percent in 2009. For the first time in history, support for gay marriage punched into the majority in a national poll.
â€œEvery day it becomes more and more apparent that [Proposal 2] is out of step with majority sentiment around the country and, I think, in the state of Michigan,â€ Wolff said.
â€œThe more hostile opinion of six years ago, memorialized in Proposal 2, appears to control how gay and lesbian couples are treated there now,â€ Pinello said.
Democratic action via constitutional amendments is a novelty in the United States. Legislatures can repeal laws, but itâ€™s much more cumbersome process to change a state constitution.
â€œThey were wily,â€ Pinello said of Proposal 2â€™s Michigan backers. â€œThey intended to immortalize the opinion of the day into the future.â€
Removing the tattoo will probably be a long and painful operation.
Pinello isnâ€™t rushing his book. Heâ€™s confident history will not leap forward and make his work moot anytime soon.
â€œI donâ€™t see things improving for a long, long time,â€ Pinello said. â€œIf thereâ€™s any salvation, it will come from the U.S. Supreme Court. Barring that, itâ€™s unlikely that there will be the political will to repeal these awful amendments.â€
Wolff said it would either take â€œa mobilized effort by state legislatures and the people, or action by the federal courts.â€ Nevertheless, when Pinello asked gay and lesbian couples if they have thought of moving out of the Michigan, he was amazed at the answers.
â€œMost of them have not,â€ he said. â€œTheyâ€™ll say, â€˜I was born and raised a Michigander, Iâ€™ll stay here and fight.â€™â€
Pinello wasnâ€™t shy about comparing what he heard to rationales offered by Jews who didnâ€™t leave Germany in the 1930s.
â€œThere were all these signs of increasing hostility, but people were saying very similar things,â€ Pinello said. â€œâ€˜Iâ€™m as German as Hitler.â€™ â€˜Itâ€™s a passing thing.â€™ â€˜Iâ€™m going to stay and fight.â€™ â€˜Things will get better.â€™â€
You wonâ€™t get any Weimar Germany delusions from Dennis Hall, a retired State of Michigan worker who lives in Lansing. Hall has trouble buying the argument that a small group of rabid legislators are to blame for Proposal 2 and its fallout.
â€œIf people of Michigan were really tolerant, they wouldnâ€™t be voting for these people they keep putting in office,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s a frustrating feeling to be gay and living in Michigan, to be honest. I really donâ€™t feel comfortable in this state anymore.â€
The rain of legal and legislative blows, large and small, takes a toll. Hall was aghast at a measure proposed in April to require universities that have accredited counseling programs to report to the state Legislature on how studentsâ€™ religious beliefs are accommodated. The measure was proposed when an Eastern Michigan University counselor was fired after refusing to counsel a gay student. Michiganâ€™s attorney general, Bill Schuette, filed a brief in support of the fired counselor.
Hall is angry that lawmakers would busy themselves with inserting such a provision when LGBT rights are actively suppressed across the board.
â€œWhen are they going to put something in the boilerplate that says something positive about us?â€ Hall said.
Hall said heâ€™s had it. As soon as his partner retires, heâ€™s leaving the state.
â€œIâ€™ve been all around the country, and Michigan is the most beautiful state in the United States, but I would leave it in a heartbeat,â€ he said.
When fear penetrates Michigan that deeply, the whole state suffers incalculable loss.
â€œThe 50 states are a marketplace, and talent that is mobile will take that into account,â€ Pinello said.
When Michael Falk left Ann Arbor last year, the University of Michigan lost more than a promising scientist. Falk walked away from a start-up package of computer and lab equipment, customized to his research needs, worth about $300,000.
â€œThey support you when youâ€™re an assistant professor while youâ€™re getting up to speed as an academic,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s obviously better for the university if you stay on and spend your most productive years in this institution thatâ€™s made a big investment in you.â€
Falk stays in touch with friends in Ann Arbor who were relieved when the University of Michigan offered â€œother qualified adultâ€ benefits, but heâ€™s glad he moved to Baltimore.
â€œTo us, it looked like a patch, until that gets challenged, and then what happens?â€ Falk asked. Watching the situation from afar, he was not surprised to learn that the Michigan legislature came close to penalizing universities that still offer benefits to same-sex couples by cutting funding an extra 5 percent.
Proposal 2 gave legislators like State Rep. Dave Agema the constitutional cover to claim that universities who offered benefits to same-sex couples were putting themselves â€œabove the law and the will of the people.â€
Michiganâ€™s Civil Service Commission voted to extend benefits to same-sex partners of state employees in January 2011.The stateâ€™s Legislature fell short in an effort to overturn the ruling, but Schuette has sued to stop the benefits, Gov. Rick Snyder has warned that the state canâ€™t afford them, and some Republican legislators, outraged by the Civil Service Commissionâ€™s ruling, want to abolish the commission altogether.
â€œThis is not the end of story,â€ Falk said. â€œWeâ€™re very concerned for our friends in Michigan. Some are couples with kids. The parent whoâ€™s taking care of the children is the one whose benefits depends on the university.â€
A bill recognizing same-sex marriage narrowly missed passage in the Maryland legislature this spring, but Falk is hopeful it will go through in the near future.
â€œItâ€™s good to be in a place where things are moving in the right direction,â€ Falk said.
|AFA-Michigan President Gary Glenn is the guest this weekend on “Off the Record,” the weekly public affairs television show featuring a roundtable discussion with political reporters from the state Capitol in Lansing.
The topic: Is there a coming clash between Gov. Rick Snyder and the legislative agenda of conservative lawmakers and advocacy groups such as the American Family Association of Michigan?
Click here to watch: http://video.wkar.org/video/1966735959
Off the Record also airs on public education channels statewide — in the Lansing area on WKAR-TV Channel 23 at 11:30 pm tonight (Friday), and 12:30 pm and 11:30 pm Sunday, and in Midland, Friday at 8:30 pm on Charter Cable channel 9 and noon Sunday on channel 12. Check your local cable listings.
The topics discussed:
* Right to Work legislation, which would prohibit compulsory union membership or financial support as a condition of employment. Gary cited polls which in 2004 showed that two-thirds of union members in Michigan supported our state’s Marriage Protection Amendment, which he co-authored, when it appeared on the ballot. But those same union members, Christians and others, were forced under threat of being fired to financially support the state AFL-CIO and Michigan Education Association, which campaigned against the marriage amendment. Gary led the successful effort to make Idaho a Right to Work state a quarter-century ago. http://bit.ly/dtYzXb
* Posting our national motto “In God We Trust” in public school classrooms, such as reported here: http://bit.ly/jJa1Y6
* Anti-bullying legislation, such as reported here: http://bit.ly/jr1Ek1
* Preventing the use of public school classrooms to promote homosexual behavior and gender confusion. Gary specifically cited this Fox News report: http://bit.ly/iVrJac
To support AFA-Michigan’s stand for families and traditional family values, please make a tax-deductible contribution online by clicking here: http://bit.ly/kuE98X
Or by mail to: AFA-Michigan, PO Box 1904, Midland, MI 48641
Thanks, and may God bless and strengthen you and your family!
|What is referenced in this story as a “radio commercial” is in fact our AFA-Michigan News Minute, a daily audio news feed we provide to Christian and other radio stations across the state, which air them free of charge. The “news minute” addressing Gov. Snyder and the Right to Work issue, illustrated by the campaign for Michigan’s Marriage Protection Amendment, is attached.
“(Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Michigan) told everyone he was all about getting a new budget and business tax in place and would not be diverted by ‘other’ issues. Well the budget is in place, as is the business tax, and here comes Gary Glenn of the American Family Association of Michigan. Letâ€™s just say Mr. G.G. is not a liberal…not by any stretch. And heâ€™s got an agenda as long as your arm of 15 issues that he wants the governor and GOP legislature to tackle.
…Mr. Glenn even launched some radio commercials sticking the Right to Work issue right in the governorâ€™s relentless positive action face. Recall Mr. Snyder thinks Right to Work is divisive and would pit business against labor in what could well be a nasty political bloodbath. Mr. Glenn and company appear to be saying, bring on the blood.”
FOX 2 DETROIT
Gary Glenn’s agenda for Rick Snyder
by Tim Skubick / FOX 2 Political Consultant
LANSING — Oh my, this could get mucho messy.
The ultra-conservative wing of the state GOP has been patiently marking time since January when the Rick Snyder juggernaut rolled into town.
The new governor told everyone he was all about getting a new budget and business tax in place and would not be diverted by â€œotherâ€ issues.
Well the budget is in place, as is the business tax, and here comes Gary Glenn of the American Family Association of Michigan. Letâ€™s just say Mr. G.G. is not a liberal…not by any stretch.
And heâ€™s got an agenda as long as your arm of 15 issues that he wants the governor and GOP legislature to tackle.
Try this on for size:
(1) prohibit state funding of any sex changes for prison inmates.
(2) prohibit use of classroom dollars to â€œpromote any form of sexual activity outside of marriage.”
(3) Halt any show of nudity during â€œdrama productionsâ€ at state universities.
(4) Cut off support to Planned Parenthood
(5) Make sure homosexual couples canâ€™t adopt children.
One could go on to list the other 10, but you generally get the idea here, right? By the way, none of those items were in the Snyder campaign blueprint to reinvent Michigan.
Obviously, thereâ€™s been a pent up demand to address some of those social wedge issues which the current governor has demonstrated little stomach to stomach.
Mr. Glenn even launched some radio commercials sticking the Right to Work issue right in the governorâ€™s relentless positive action face. Recall Mr. Snyder thinks Right to Work is divisive and would pit business against labor in what could well be a nasty political bloodbath.
Mr. Glenn and company appear to be saying, bring on the blood.
Wonder what blood-type the governor is?