Vote or die - or at least lose support

Vote or die! This 2004 slogan popularized by celebrities like P Diddy clad in bold T-shirts sporting the slogan may be a little abrasive for some. But there's more truth to it than we sometimes realize, and the saying holds true not just when we "Remember in November" (another favorite political slogan), but when we exercise this important civil right in the August primaries.

Voting isn't always fun. We wake up extra early to wait in a long line where we push a button or circle some names, all the while wondering, "How much does my vote really count?"

In the primaries, when voter turnout is especially low, one vote counts plenty.

Take Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey, for example. Running for Oakland County commissioner in a overwhelmingly Democratic region, his battle is not against his Republican opponent, but the three other Democratic nominees - all of whom he must defeat in the primaries.

Or the gubernatorial race. Only one of the seven candidates running on either side is an ardent supporter and proven warrior for all of the rights our community cares about - same-sex marriage, anti-bullying bills, abortion rights, second-parent adoption, workplace discrimination - and the list goes on.

But Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero's election to the office of governor will never be a possibility in November if he doesn't defeat Rep. Andy Dillon in the Aug. 3 primaries, and the polls for that race are especially tight.

Even in races not crucially dependent on primary elections, it's important to start thinking about who you will support with your words, your money and your time now - not in the fall, when it is too late.

Hone in your efforts on the community that surrounds you without hyper-focusing on the race for governor of Michigan. While winning that battle is crucial, it won't mean much if our mayors and city council members and representatives aren't on our side.

Local elections can mean the difference between council that passes a non-discrimination ordinance and cares about its LGBT constituency and one like in Holland, Mich., which is currently being persuaded to vote against such an ordinance by the Family Research Council through anti-gay advertisements. It can mean representatives and senators who support our issues in the state legislature, or it can mean that we go more years without basic rights like protections from being fired or kicked out of our homes, or help for LGBT youth who are being bullied.

All state elections can make a difference, and they are going on now. Do not be content to wait and cast your ballot on Nov. 2. The battle has already begun in Michigan, where we must fight to elect progressiveofficials in our state legislature, to the governor's office, and in our cities and towns.

Elections are not won in a day; they're not even won in two (primaries and main elections). They're won by constant, day-to-day activism on behalf of our allies running for office. So support the candidates who support our LGBT community, and remember to vote not just Nov. 2, but on Aug. 3 - your life truly could depend on it.

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