Zero To Five In 2014

By Crystal A. Proxmire

Currently there are no openly gay legislators in Michigan. But if all goes well in the 2014 elections there could be as many as five - four in the State House and one in the State Senate.

Garnet Lewis could be the first lesbian State Senator. She is running in the 32nd District which includes Saginaw, Zilwaukee, Tidabawassee Township, Frankenmuth and Swartz Creek. Aaryn Richard is running for State Representative in the 85th District which includes Owosso. Jon Hoadley is running for State Representative in the 60th District which includes Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township. Jeremy Moss is running for State Representative in the 35th District which includes Southfield and Lathrup Village. And Rudy Serra is running for State Representative for the 27th District which is made up of several South Oakland County communities including Hazel Park, Ferndale, and Berkley.

Mark LaChey, Chair of the LGBT Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party, is excited about the prospect of increasing the number of gay representatives. All five LGBT candidates are Democrats.

"Not a single piece of pro-LGBT legislation has been passed in a state without any LGBT people in the legislature," LaChey said. "If you're openly gay of course you represent all people in your district. But you also can be a voice for LGBT people. It helps other elected officials to know an LGBT person and understand that the issues affect them."

Issues that could come up in the next couple of years include amending Elliott Larsen, hate crimes legislation, marriage equality, and second parent adoption. Having LGBT people in the legislature can make it more likely that these issues will be heard.

The LGBT Caucus is not set up to give money to the candidates, however they are encouraging people to give directly to any or all of the LGBT candidates. LaChey also said that he's helping the candidates by making it easier for them to connect with leaders in the State Democratic Party by inviting LGBT candidates to gatherings and introducing them to party leaders. They are also considering endorsing the candidates, though they've not formally voted on that possibility yet. That will be decided at their March 15 Endorsement Convention at Cobo Hall.

When deciding how much support to give candidates, some consider the chances the candidate may have to win the race. "None [of the LGBT candidates] are lost causes or longshots," LaChey said. "All five have the possibility to be a legislator."

He explained that four of the five races will likely be decided in the primary, with the exception of Richard's race in Owosso where he is not facing a primary but will go up against a Republican in November. Because of the importance of primary races, LaChey said those who want to see these candidates prevail should "get in their support early." The primary is in August.

Michigan has had only one openly gay State Representative. Christopher Kolb represented the 53rd District, including Ann Arbor, from 2001 to 2007 before term limits barred him from seeking a fourth term.

Learn more about each candidate by visiting their websites:

Garnet Lewis - http://www.garnetlewis.com/

Aaryn Richard - https://secure.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/35184

Jon Hoadley - http://jonhoadley.ngpvanhost.com/

Jeremy Moss - http://www.jeremyforsouthfield.com/

Rudy Sera- http://vote4rudyserra.com/

Or read our previous interviews:

Garnet Lewis - http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=59380

Aaryn Richard (coming soon)

Jon Hoadley - http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=62274

Jeremy Moss - http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=63590

Rudy Serra - http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=63709


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