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Michigan GOP rejects LGBT Pride resolution, wants 'lifestyle' disclaimer

Mike Shirkey
(Bridge photo by Dale Young)

Update: Michigan House passes LGBTQ Pride resolution after Senate effort stalls

LANSING – Republican leadership in the Michigan Senate on Tuesday refused to take up a Pride Month resolution adopted in identical form last year, drawing protests from Democrats who accused the majority of sowing election-year divisions. 

The resolution would have recognized June 2022 as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month." Instead, it was referred to Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey's Government Operations Committee,

The House and Senate approved the resolution last year, a first for the GOP-led Legislature. But this year, “the Republican leadership regresses and again throws Pride Month back into the trash heap,” sponsoring Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, said in a floor speech.

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“I guess the cruelty is the point,” he said. 

Shirkey, in a statement provided to Bridge Michigan through his office, said he had “made suggestions” to Moss for amendments to make the resolution “more reflective of the diversity of opinions in the Senate.” 

The Clarklake Republican did not explain why he thought changes were needed to a resolution adopted last year but said he and Moss could not agree on revised language, “so we’ve sent it to committee, just like we routinely do with dozens of other resolutions.”

The resolution, like last year’s version, encourages Michigan to "expand all efforts to attract and retain talent and signal to the national we are welcoming to all" and notes contributions of gay and transgender residents. 

Shirkey wanted to replace language specific to the LGBT community with references to valuing "all" Michigan residents, and he proposed removing language about the government's "low and insufficient" response to the HIV/AIDS crisis and civil rights, Moss told Bridge.

But most concerning to him, Moss said, was a disclaimer Shirkey wanted to add: "Though not every citizen in Michigan agrees with the lifestyle of the LGBT community, it is agreed that every life is special, precious, unique and loved by the the creator, and each person is created in God's image."

Moss refused the addition, calling it a "negative" statement about LGBTQ residents that implies being gay is a choice. It would be like amending a Jewish American Heritage Month resolution to note that "not everyone in the state of Michigan supports the Jewish lifestyle," added Moss, who is gay and Jewish. 

"I will not be gaslit that this is my problem," Moss said of the resolution's failure to pass the Senate on Tuesday. "I did not change the stakes. I did not move the goalposts. They did."

The resolution is co-sponsored by all Senate Democrats and three Republicans: Sens. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City and Jim Stamas, R-Midland. 

Schmidt told Bridge Michigan that while he doesn’t completely understand the rationale for sending the resolution back to committee, he believes in its message and hopes it will come back to the floor. 

“I feel that all Michiganders should be included,” Schmidt said. “While it has gone to (committee), I am hoping that my colleagues on that committee vote it out and that we can have a vote on it again on the Senate floor and pass the resolution. That’s my goal.” 

The resolution, like last year’s, explains that Pride celebrations started in 1970, the one-year anniversary of New York City’s Stonewall Riots, which began when a black transgender woman and others "risked their lives to protest the over-policing of the LGBTQ community."

No one’s “marriage dissolved,” no businesses shuttered and no church “lost its religious freedom” when the Legislature adopted an identical resolution in 2021, Moss told colleagues, accusing Republicans of "choosing to exploit divisiveness" in an election year.

"Their agenda is to make you fear the gay agenda," Moss said in his floor speech, noting his personal agenda, as a gay senator, includes passing "common sense gun reform” and working with Republicans address affordable housing, economic development and police reforms.

"They call people groomers, only in 2022, but it doesn't solve your problems," Moss said, referencing a controversial campaign fundraising email from Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton. “They push 'don't say gay' only in 2022, but it doesn't solve your problems."

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