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Opinion | After abortion falls, will Michigan come for same-sex marriage next?

As a gay, white man in southeastern Michigan, am I selfish to immediately turn from the likely fall of Roe v. Wade to fretting about gay marriage?

Kevin Bain
Kevin Bain is founder and chair of the City of Detroit's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group. (Courtesy photo)

I find myself thinking, if one domino falls then surely others will follow. But does it make me a bad person to not focus primarily on that first toppled domino – women’s right to choose?

There’s a saying that basically goes, they came first for group A but I was not group A so I said nothing. Then they came for group B, yet neither was I in group B. And so on until it’s your turn to be persecuted and no one is left to defend you.

This sentiment calls to mind State Senator Mallory McMorrow’s speech last month, when she characterized herself as a “straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom,” then forged on to defend LGBTQ people. A decade ago, her exact demographic group fought against LGBTQ issues like marriage rights, but times have changed.

As more of us have bravely come out, we realized that queer people never represented a threat. Straight people found they may have homosexual and transgender children, relatives, neighbors, friends or coworkers. They discovered that they felt the same towards these loved ones even once out of the closet. Along the arc of history, attitudes bent towards accepting the LGBTQ community.

McMorrow captured the zeitgeist: Michiganders are ready to cease persecution of LGBTQ people, just as we overwhelmingly support women’s reproductive rights. A stunning 70 percent of Michiganders support non-discrimination policies for the LGBTQ community. Similarly, 67 percent of Michiganders believe in preserving Roe v. Wade’s protections.

Despite public support, the Human Rights Campaign reports that 32 States and the District of Columbia have more protections for queer people than Michigan. We also know that Michigan’s 1931 sweeping ban on all abortions will make us one of the worst states for women’s rights. When will our policies finally catch up to our opinions?

The state of Michigan cannot be the leader in these issues, in fact we cannot even rank in the top half. But let us not be one of the last, let us not be one of the worst states for people to live – people who may love and identify differently, who wish to have control over their own bodies, but who will be proud Michiganders given the chance.

This June marks the 50th anniversary of Pride in Detroit, so let us rally around this monumental milestone to codify our rights. It is about time Michigan turns this dogged fight into a reason to celebrate.

Harvey Milk – the first openly gay elected politician in California, who died by assassination – proclaimed, “Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.” Not everyone has a closet door to hide behind, but all of us have the power to make those closets easier to come out from, and better to live outside of.

So what to do? Attend a protest, march in a pride parade, donate to a worthy cause, write to your representatives. Vote! Show and tell people you support them no matter what through your actions and unwavering advocacy.

Ultimately, all our hard-won rights face immediate threat. We are intricately tied together, and thus every battle belongs to and calls for every single one of us. We the people, who believe in human decency and the right to choose, the right to love, the right to be.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission. If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact Ron French. Click here for details and submission guidelines.

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