Mark Schauer on the Capitol Steps

Schauer Leaves His Mark On Michigan Pride

By AJ Trager

LANSING - There were hundreds of people who gathered at the Capitol Steps Aug. 23rd for a rally celebrating the 25th Annual Michigan Pride in Lansing.

After marching to the Capitol steps, First Congregational UCC Pastor, Reverend Nicolette Siragusa, led a commitment ceremony. Glenna DeJona then gave the grand speech, speaking for herself and Marsha Caspar, the first same-sex couple married in the state of Michigan.

The temperature climbed on the Capitol steps as candidate for governor Mark Schauer took the stage. A gubernatorial candidate speaking at Michigan Pride hasn't occurred in many years. Schauer was well-received by the crowd who waved flags and shouted "One Love" when he came to the podium.

"My friends, it's really pretty simple. Commitment is commitment. Love is love. Nobody in this great state should face discrimination based on who they love, where they live, what they look like or because of their gender identity," Schauer said, pausing for the crowd to respond.

Schauer showed appreciation for the courage and strength of both lawsuit plaintiff couples, Marsha Caspar and Glenna DeJong (Caspar v Snyder) and Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer (DeBoer v Snyder).

"Now, Rick Snyder says he's a tough nerd," Schauer continued. "But let me tell you: there is nothing tough about taking away benefits for committed same-sex couples. There's nothing tough about denying equal rights to the LGBT community. And there's nothing tough about defending a discriminatory ban on marriage equality. That's not tough. That's wrong."

Schauer and running mate Lisa Brown have said many times that they will stand for LGBT rights within their administration and for the state at large. He reaffirmed his position at the rally.

"When I am governor, discrimination will have no place in my administration. We will amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and we will ban LGBT discrimination once and for all. We will do that together. And we will fight, and we will lead Michigan to be a marriage equality state," Schauer said.

He relinquished the spotlight to Todd Heywood, who spoke about PreP and how important the new HIV preventative drug could be for the gay market. Then Rachel Crandall, president of Transgender Michigan, and Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan, spoke towards the recent violence against transwomen in Detroit.

This was the first time a gubernatorial candidate shared the stage with Transgender Michigan, Crandall told BTL: "It was a very exciting day."

Festivities moved to Old Town for drag performances with host Delicious, music performances by Kate Peterson and Ronnie Nyles Band, comedian Mimi Gonzalez, RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Trinity Bonet and many more.

Old Town was packed with cars and people in rainbow, with their bodies painted in multicolor handprints or dressed in tutus. Families gathered, heavily sun-blocked, to watch the show and to attend vendor booths.

"I'm out here because the majority of my friends are bisexual, transgender, homosexual or lesbian, and I don't really appreciate how the world treats them. And the funny thing about equality is (that) everybody is equal until they're dead, and that's not really right. Everybody has had to fight for their rights. But they are showing that everybody can have fun while fighting for their rights," Lance Cooper, Lansing resident, said.

Cooper was attending the festival with his friends Taylor Caswell, Lexy Burns, Brittany Fata and Gabrielle White who were all first timers to Michigan Pride.

"I'm here to support everybody here. Most of us, I'm pretty sure, are crossing between bi and lesbian, so we just want to support everyone and bring out the love and make sure everyone knows that it's okay to be who you are, and love who you want to love," Burns laughed, pulling on the shoulders of White.

View Schauer's full speech at Michigan Pride here.

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