Kalamazoo attorney Mark Totten, Democratic candidate for Michigan attorney general. BTL photo: AJ Trager

GAGG And LGBT: Gearing Up For November

By AJ Trager

The following article has been updated due to a misattribution and the error has been corrected.

LANSING - The big Michigan Democratic names on this year's upcoming ballot were decided in Lansing this weekend at the Michigan Democratic Nominating Convention. Like every election, there are many issues that will swing a vote in favor of one nominee or another in November. And this year, many state Democrats have LGBT rights at the front of their running platform, most notably U.S. Rep and State Sen. Mark Schauer running for governor with Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown for lieutenant governor and Kalamazoo attorney Mark Totten for attorney general.

"When I heard April DeBoer's story, my heart broke because she had a near death experience in a car accident and [she] said, 'If my partner dies, I just want the security that the state cannot take away my kid.' That's all she asked," Mark Totten said to the LGBT caucus held during the convention.

Totten asked DeBoer, the plaintiff in the DeBoer v Snyder case, to nominate him for Michigan attorney general and vows to dismiss the 6th Circuit Appeal of Judge Friedman's decision the day he is sworn into office. The incumbent for Totten's race, Michigan's current Attorney General Bill Schuette, put the stop on same-sex marriages in the state and is responsible for the 6th Circuit Appeal.

"Bill Schuette's response was to double down and to wage this crusade that has continued before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. It is a great example of the stark contrast in values that are at stake in this race. I look forward to being a strong advocate for LGBT rights in this state," Totten said.

Mark LaChey, Saugatuck attorney and Chair of the LGBT caucus, believes there are three races that need to be won for the LGBT community in November: the governor's race, the attorney general's race and for the party to take back the majority in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Joan Brausch has lived in Midland for 40 years and has raised a family within the school system and the community. She believes it to be a fantastic community but can see a disparity amongst those that don't have a strong voice within the system.

"We need a country where discrimination is gone. Where people have equal rights no matter who they are," Brausch said, addressing the caucus.

She is running in the 98th District with a platform that protects education for K-12, promotes better funding opportunities for those that are college bound, hopes to decrease unemployment and also raise the minimum wage.

Her opponent, Gary Glenn, is a homophobe according to LaChey who believes the GOP party has 11 homophobic tea party candidates in mostly safe seats, but thinks it's Brausch's race that has the biggest opportunity to unseat one of the 11.

"The best shot to knock off one of those openly homophobic, anti-gay hate-mongering [candidates] is Gary Glenn who is running in the 98th district," LaChey said. "Yes, it is an anti-gay Gary Glenn campaign, but it is a pro-Joan Brausch campaign. Joan ran two years ago for the state house seat. And she has run again."

The LGBT caucus is raising money for a campaign that will be launched shortly called GAGG, or "Gays Against Gary Glenn," where donations will be given to Brausch's campaign to beat out Glenn. Glenn helped author the Michigan marriage protection amendment outlawing same-sex marriage and has in the past used LGBT affiliation as means of criticism against other political figures.

"Every cycle we say that this is the most important election of our lifetime. I think every cycle that's probably true. After seeing and waging the battles that we have waged, we don't need rhetoric; we're going to run on the facts," Michigan State Senator Gretchen Whitmer said.

Whitmer has spent 14 years in the minority and gets excited when there is a civil war on the other side of the aisle in the Republican Party. She believes one is being waged now.

"The fundamental question they are going to try and figure out today is are they going to have the establishment republican party who is anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-worker, tax raising on pensions and school cutting Republicans or are they going to offer something worse than that. It's hard to imagine," Whitmer said.

Excitement was high during the LGBT caucus that ran over by nearly 45 minutes with various candidates stepping in to show their support for LGBT rights and inclusions. Some notable names that continue to contribute their support include Councilman Jeremy Moss running for State Rep. in the 35th District, strategist Jon Hoadley running for State Rep. in the 60th District, current Mayor of Southfield Brenda Lawrence running for Congress in Michigan's 14th District, Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown running for Michigan lieutenant governor, Congressman Gary Peters running for U.S. Senate and Michigan Court of Appeals Chief Judge Bill Murphy running for Michigan Supreme Court.

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