Politics and Prejudices: The only hope for Michigan's LGBT community lies with the U.S. Supreme Court

Lansing: Screw the Perverts!

Dec 10, 2014 at 1:00 am

Poor Michelle Fox-Phillips.

She sent me a Facebook message a few days ago that indicated when it comes to politics, she is in la-la land. I've never met Phillips, the co-founder of Transgender Detroit, but she seems to be a decent, caring person devoted to the welfare of her community.

"As you might know, the state legislature is considering ... amending the Elliott-Larsen [civil rights] act to include sexual orientation and gender identity," she began.

However, she had heard that the Republicans did not want to include gender identity and gender expression in the bill, and asked, "Would it be possible to write an article about how this is wrong?"

When I saw that, it was all I could do not to bitterly LMAO until I was ROTF, for all you hip texters out there, baby.

OK, well, I'm only a decade or so behind the acronyms. But I do know this: Anyone who thinks the GOP is going to do anything to extend civil rights to even gay and lesbian people is out of touch.

They won't, period. There was one nice little Republican legislator named Frank Foster, from the prosperous northern resort town of Petoskey who had the decency and courage to come out for amending the state civil rights law to include gays.

Not scary transsexuals, mind you; just gays. The result was that he got his ass kicked badly in the primary election by some 26-year-old Christian schoolteacher named Lee Chatfield.

They got the message, the rest of the GOP, that is. Their party today is so tied in with the religious right, financially and otherwise, that they don't dare think about doing anything human for gays.

Sure, attitudes in society have changed dramatically. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a conservative Republican from Ohio, may have been able to get away with coming out in favor of gay marriage.

But that won't work in most places in our gerrymandered legislative districts. Nobody is going to even get close to expanding civil rights in the last few days of this legislative session.

Next year, things will be worse, Michelle. Far worse. The new Speaker of the House will be Kevin Cotter, a 37-year-old Republican from Mount Pleasant. He's reliably reported to be both more conservative and much smarter than his predecessor, the oafish Jase Bolger.

Within days of his selection as Speaker-elect, Cotter made it clear that he has no interest in expanding Elliott-Larsen to include sexual orientation. In fact, what he wants to do instead is ram through a state "Religious Freedom Restoration Act."

Huh? What — were bullies on his block preventing him from joining his local Baptist church? Well, of course not! We may have economic inequality, wage slavery, and discrimination, but we have total religious liberty. Except this isn't about religious liberty at all.

No, it is about the freedom to discriminate against anybody whose lifestyle you despise. ACLU lawyers say this so-called "religious freedom act" would allow an employer to fire someone gay, or even pregnant and unmarried, on phony "religious" grounds.

Cotter intellectually must have been sneering when he told a reporter, "For me, it is a question of can we gain some religious liberties potentially without the Elliott-Larsen."

By the way, Michelle, you may have noticed that nobody has even mentioned "gender identity or gender expression." That's because these folks think of you folks as nothing more than perverts.

They don't want you out; they don't want to see you, you make them nervous, and they don't think you deserve any rights. Trust me on this. I am a straight, middle-aged white male; I wear a suit and my hair is pretty short. I can move among them if I keep my mouth shut and listen to what is said around me, and I know how they think.

My guess is that they won't try to ram a "religious freedom act," into law the last few days of this lame-duck session. First of all, my guess is that Gov. Rick Snyder has made it quietly clear to the legislature he won't sign any crackbrain social legislation.

Not, that is, unless they do something on roads first. But what if the price of getting the money to fix the roads is throwing gays and lesbians under the bus? (I would say, to the wolves, but as you probably know, the legislature wants to shoot them.) Based on what he's done in the past (right-to-work, motorcycle helmets, etc.) my guess is that the governor would again sell out to the nutty right.

Next year, things should be even worse. Republicans will have even more lopsided majorities in both houses of the legislature.

If they want to pass some "religious freedom" bill, they can. If the governor doesn't veto it, the ACLU and possibly other groups will immediately file lawsuits challenging its constitutional grounds.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who never saw a same sex couple whose rights he didn't want to take away, would weigh in on the side of the bad guys, and much of the state could, once again, manage to waste a lot of money without addressing our real issues.

So, Michelle Fox-Phillips: The bottom line is that if you are looking to the Michigan legislature to help you, you will be screwed, and not in a nice way. Your hope, and that of every LBGT Michigander, lies in the U.S. Supreme Court.

That, and in maybe trying to get some of the four million people who didn't get off their asses to vote last month to show up next time.

We need to give more bored kids BB guns: Couple Saturdays ago, a couple of teenagers went out joyriding on Saturday night, shooting more than 100 car windows out with air rifles.

Technically, what they were doing was illegal, and one of their mothers was charged as well. Under Michigan law, nobody under the age of 18 is allowed to have a BB gun, or anything that uses gas, air, or a spring to fire a bullet — unless accompanied by an adult.

But the National Rifle Association thinks we need more kids out there banging away with BBs. They have posted that Michigan has "outdated and unduly burdensome restrictions on air rifles."

As I write, the lawmakers they have bought with campaign contributions have an eight-bill package in the legislature that would do just that, and take away any restrictions on minors and pellet guns of any type. No longer would they need an adult around to bang away.

By the way, Republicans like to say they're in favor of small government and local control. Which is true, except when it's not, which is what happens when they fear local government will do something they don't like. In this case, that would be preventing kids from shooting each other's eyes out with BB guns.

Accordingly, the state Senate passed a bill this fall to prevent local governments from regulating BB or paintball guns.

Well, there's always a silver lining — and it is clear that, however unintentionally, our lawmakers have provided gay and transgendered kids with a way to defend themselves. True, they won't have any civil rights, but they will be able to constantly carry a good, strong air rifle and shoot out the eyes of anyone who gives them any trouble.

I had a friend who had a glass eye courtesy of a BB gun, when I was growing up. Yes, all this will be good for eye surgeons as well!

What a wonderful state we live in. — mt