Update: 'Laramie Project' anti-gay heckler identified as Michigan Assistant Attorney General

by Jessica Carreras

The anti-gay heckler present at the May 8 "Laramie Project" rally to counteract Westboro Baptist Church has been identified as Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell. Shirvell was seen at the rally calling University of Michigan's openly gay student body President Chris Armstrong a "racist liar."

Shirvell, a University of Michigan graduate and Ave Maria School of Law 2006 alum, is known for his history of vocal and written protests against abortion, LGBT rights and the election of Democrats, including President Barack Obama, whom Shirvell claimed in a pre-election Facebook post would support pro-choice advocates, as well as "promote the destruction of marriage by appointing activist judges."

A licensed lawyer. Shirvell has worked under Attorney General Mike Cox for several years and served as his campaign manager for Cox's 2006 reelection. Cox, a Republican, is currently making a run for governor of Michigan.

Shirvell caught the attention of Michigan's LGBT community when, according to the Michigan Messenger, he posted a piece on RightMichigan.com bashing then-Triangle Foundation Director of Policy Sean Kosofsky. He later exchanged words with Joe Sylvester of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Then, on Feb. 7 of this year, a blog called "Cox Watch" purported to have e-mails between Shirvell and the Log Cabin Republicans where he was again slamming the group. "You are all sick freaks," the Feb. 3 e-mail from Shirvell began. He went on to say of LCR that "the grassroots will never let you and your butt-buddies ... hijack our pro-life, pro-family (Republican) party in pursuit of your perverted radical homosexual agenda."

A second e-mail from Shirvell stated that, "What I do on my own time - during lunch or here at home - is my business," suggesting that his activism is something he partakes in while in the attorney general's office in Lansing.

Michigan Log Cabin Republicans' Sylvester confirmed the e-mails, which were sent to him, as well as Justin Wilson and Tyler Whitney.

Shirvell's latest anti-gay heckling of UM student president Armstrong at the May 8 rally was met with calls for ignoring him. Some, however, didn't. Washtenaw County Commissioner Jeff Irwin, who is running for state representative in his district, called Shirvell a "bozo" at the event and attempted to take his poster, which read "Chris Armstrong = Racist LIAR" and reported Armstrong's affiliation with the Order of Angell, a by-invitation-only honors society at UM.

On his blog, "Chris Armstrong Watch," Shirvell referred to Armstrong as a "viciously militant homosexual activist" and contended that he, along with other participants in the "Laramie" counter-protest were "mocking Christians."

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