The Good, The Bad And The Ugly For LGBT Michigan

Victories And Losses Of The Primary Election

BY Todd Heywood

With the polls closed, and the votes counted, Michigan's general election ballot is a mishmash of the good, the bad and the truly ugly for November.

The Good

Arch-conservative and antigay state lawmaker Tom McMillin lost his primary race for the GOP nomination for 8th Congressional seat. Former State Sen. Majority Leader Mike Bishop defeated him and will face Democrat Eric Schertzing in November. Schertzing is currently the Ingham County Treasurer and bested Susan Grettenberger, an out lesbian.

Jon Hoadley, who is openly gay and was endorsed by BTL, won the primary in the 60th House District, which encompasses much of Kalamazoo. Jeremy Moss, who is also gay and endorsed by BTL, handily won his primary for the 35th House District, which includes Southfield.

The Bad

Openly gay attorney and former judge Rudy Serra lost his race in the 27th House District. Openly gay candidate Nathan Morrish lost his bid for the 34th House District.

Garnet Lewis, an out lesbian candidate for the 32nd State Senate seat, lost her primary to State Rep. Stacey Erwin Oakes.

In Western Wayne and Oakland County, Tea Party Favorite Congressman Kerry Bentivolio has lost his Republican primary to foreclosure magnate David Trott.

The Ugly

Rep. Frank Foster, a Republican sponsor of legislation to amend Elliot Larsen, has lost his primary to Lee Chatfield - an educator with a Christian academy in northern Michigan. Chatfield got support from former state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk. Hoogendyk painted the race as essential to holding the GOP away from equality.

Tea Party favorite Todd Courser has inched out his opponents in the GOP primary in the 82nd House district. Courser will face off with Democrat Marcus Middleton. When Courser was targeted by the Great Lakes Education Project, a DeVos funded project, he lashed out on Facebook accusing the organization of promoting the "homosexual agenda."

In the 98th House district, antigay leader Gary Glenn squeezed out a win over Karl Ieuter in the Republican primary. Glenn will now face Democrat Joan Braunsch. Glenn runs the American Family Association of Michigan, and is on record calling for the recriminalization of homosexuality. He is also the proud co-author of Michigan's "Marriage Amendment," which banned marriage equality in the state in 2004. That ban was ruled unconstitutional earlier this year, and the 6th District Court of Appeals is holding the hearing Wednesday.

Gay Candidates Sound Off

Tuesday night, BTL reached out to the four candidates endorsed by the paper for reaction to the primary outcomes. Lewis could not be reached, since her race was called at nearly 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Serra, who lost to Robert Wittenberg, spoke highly of the winner.

"If I couldn't win the race, the person who won - he's the one I would've picked," Serra said in a phone interview. Serra noted that Wittenberg had months into the race before he ever entered, and his campaign was not able to compensate for the tight time frame. He said he expects Wittenberg will be good on LGBT equality issues.

Hoadley was very happy when reached Tuesday night.

"We presented a progressive vision of Michigan that invests in people," he said. "Tonight's win is an affirmation of those values."

He noted that he was saddened that Lewis and Serra had lost their races, but noted, "It's likely we will have the largest representation of the LGBT community in the state legislature."

Moss, too was excited. His primary win is likely a seal on the seat itself - with the district 81 percent democratic. He said he was dismayed with the oustering of Foster in favor an anti-LGBT candidate.

"I was looking forward to working across the aisle with Frank Foster," Moss said.

As for the wins of Courser and Glenn, he called them "more obsessed with gay people than the LGBT candidates."


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Special Section: Pride Source Votes
Revealing Bigotry: Taking On Gary Glenn

In a Sept. 27 op-ed in the Detroit News, conservative Republican columnist Nolan Finley raised serious concerns about three Republican candidates running for the state house Nov. 4. Todd Courser of Lapeer, Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell and Gary Glenn of Midland -- all correctly identified by Finley as a "trio (who) seeks tea party tyranny." Nolan describes Glenn and Courser as "extremely anti-gay (who) would turn the Republican Party into a fundamentalist denomination of the Christian Church if given the chance." Finley warned that the trio's narrow views on the Legislature could cripple the government and its ability to work across the aisle to move the state forward. Their agenda also includes killing any expansion of the Elliot-Larsen act to include LGBT protections.

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