A Schauer/Totten/Peters leadership team would work towards enacting basic civil rights protections in employment, housing, public accommodations and family rights including second parent adoption and hospital visitation.

It Doesn't Have To Be 'Michigan Versus LGBT People'

Last week, two juxtaposed events starkly exposed the long-range impact of choices we make at the ballot box. The federal marriage equality trial in Cincinnati featured Michigan Gov. Snyder as a named defendant against the LGBT community, and Attorney General Bill Schuette had his minions vigorously fight in court to maintain second-class status for LGBT people in our state.

That same day in Michigan's primary election, Mark Schauer ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination for governor as did Gary Peters for U.S. Senate, both vocal supporters of the LGBT community and marriage equality. In November, Schauer will square off against Gov. Snyder, Peters will face Republican Terri Lynn Land for a U.S. Senate seat and Mark Totten will run against Schuette for attorney general. Schauer, Peters and Totten all support full equality for LGBT people including marriage. All three Republicans do not.

Schauer and Totten have publicly announced that, if elected, they will immediately drop the state's appeal of U.S. District Judge Friedman's sweeping decision declaring Michigan's marriage ban to be unconstitutional. If that happens, with one sweep of the new leadership's pen, Michigan will become the next state to enjoy full marriage equality.

In Cincinnati, the 6th Circuit Court combined four states' marriage equality cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The three-judge panel listened to arguments from all four states. Although impossible to predict how they will rule, those in the courtroom said they feared this court might be the first one to issue a negative ruling, turning against a recent string of federal court cases decided in favor of marriage equality.

Marriage equality in Michigan and across the country is not inevitable. Those against equality are afraid they might lose this battle and are working harder and louder than ever to turn the tide back to discrimination. Regardless of how the court may rule, the battlefield for equality is in the ballot box.

August's primary elections in our state made history by yielding TWO openly gay men now poised to serve in the Michigan legislature, Jon Hoadley in Kalamazoo and Jeremy Moss in Southfield. But Gary Glenn also won his Republican primary race in Midland/Bay County. President of the American Family Association of Michigan, a hate group as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Glenn is the proud author of the 2004 Michigan marriage ban amendment and says homosexuality should be criminalized. Glenn will run against Democrat Joan Brausch in November.

Full equality in Michigan will not simply be given to us. We must continue to work for it with resources, time and - of course - our votes. A sanguine sense that marriage equality is sweeping the nation and therefore all we have to do is sit back and wait for it to magically appear is a sure recipe for defeat. Anti-equality activists like Glenn are counting on us to let up on the pressure for full equality with premature victory celebrations.

Our mission is clear. In November, equality supporters have to vigorously support Schauer for Governor, Peters for U.S. Senator and Totten for Attorney General. LGBT people need supporters in elected office. Just consider the current case. If Schauer and Totten were in office now instead of Snyder and Schuette, we would already have full marriage equality in Michigan. A Schauer/Totten/Peters leadership team would work towards enacting basic civil rights protections in employment, housing, public accommodations and family rights including second parent adoption and hospital visitation. Instead of constantly being pitted against our state's leadership, we would be represented and included in the fabric of Michigan's society.

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