State Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren), Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer and State Rep. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) at the MOSS PAC event in Pleasant Ridge on Sunday. BTL Photo: Alex Godin

MOSS PAC Event Gains Support for Pro-Equality Candidates

BY KATE OPALEWSKI

"It will be unsafe to be an LGBTQ Michigander if Bill Schuette is the next governor of the state."

That's what State Rep. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) told around 30 people on Sunday afternoon during a MOSS PAC event hosted by Michael Rowady and Eric Mahoney at their home in Pleasant Ridge.

"We're trying to build this up to support other candidates that carry a pro-equality message that we are going to need to be out there because we're combating some really dark forces next year," said Moss about the the Making Our State Stronger Political Action Committee he launched in 2016 as the first Democrat in ten years to run unopposed in the primary in District 35.

He applauded some of the candidates holding the line on key LGBTQ issues who attended the event - Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Gretchen Whitmer; State Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren); State Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park); City of Pleasant Ridge Commissioner Bret Scott; Ricardo White, who is running for Michigan's 6th State House District; Jordan Acker, candidate for the University of Michigan Board of Regents; LGBTQ elected officials Mayor of Southfield Ken Siver and Mayor of Ferndale Dave Coulter; and Thom Ivy, who is considering a run in Detroit's District 4.

"People wanted to support me and it would be so disingenuous to tell people to write a check to my campaign when I didn't need that support," he said. "Last year I raised almost $20,000 and turned around almost $20,000 to support other candidates."

Moss couldn't stress enough why this is so important to do. He reiterates that LGBTQ people can be fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes and there are no protections in the state. Moss said he fought hard against the state's controversial bill passed in Lansing in 2015 that lets faith-based agencies say no to prospective LGBTQ parents if saying yes violates the group's religious or moral beliefs.

"It's really bad stuff - some of the farthest away from pro-equality rights as any state in the nation. We're competitive with states like Alabama and Mississippi," he said. "We are going to hear a lot of noise about our community on the campaign trail next year, not only from the top leader in the White House, but we're going to be used as a political punching bag."

As the second openly gay member of the House, he said, "It makes a difference. When you're not at the table, you're on the menu. They're talking about us and we need to be there to shape and shift the message."

On the other end of the ideological spectrum is Whitmer, who Moss said, "is going to bat for us every single day. She has a history of going to bat for us and is the only Democratic candidate that can win in November of 2018. There is no question in my mind. We've suffered enough losses as Democrats and we need to put up our strongest, most effective candidates on the campaign trail."

Whitmer, the former state Senate Minority Leader, has done more than just talk about supporting the LGBTQ community; she's fought alongside the community during their toughest fights.

"Running for governor is not for wussies," she said. "I'm putting in 15 hours a day already and Bill Schuette's already got online ads attacking me and I know that they are going to spend $40 million telling people in the state that I love and call home what a horrible person I am. They are going to drag me through the mud and beat me up and try to punish me and my family for leading on these issues, but it's the right thing to do and I know it's what the people of our state feel too."

Selfies were a must at the MOSS PAC event on Sunday to encourage support for pro-equality candidates in Michigan.

Steph White, executive director of Equality Michigan was there to let members of the community know what they can do now to continue the LGBTQ movement forward.

One way, she said, is to support candidates like Moss and Whitmer, among others, who are brave enough to put themselves out there to make connections and build relationships with some Republican legislators who believe LGBTQ people don't exist and don't need special rights.

"We really have to keep putting our money into these candidates. That's how we build power and further progress," said White. "And talk to people. Be real, true and honest...Our allies are out there. They're not with us yet. We don't have enough allies. We need to build those relationships...Meet with lawmakers and support politicians who need your help to get their message out by volunteering and making phone calls. It sounds scary, but it's not. By showing up and being our authentic selves, that's how we can build the future that we can all believe in and we're all proud of."

Contributions can be made to the MOSS PAC at 18405 Melrose Ave., Southfield, MI 48075 or online. Visit http://www.gretchenwhitmer.com/ to support Gretchen Whitmer for Michigan governor.
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