I came across a Facebook post yesterday that made me look twice. It had a black background and the iconic Michigan mitten in the colors of the LGBT rainbow. The post was from Mark Schauer, the Democratic challenger to Michigan’s anti-equality governor, Rick Snyder. As a Michigander, this was a first for me. A candidate for state-wide office is looking to attract voters to his campaign by trumpeting the need to make Michigan the next state to go equal.
It has been common practice in Michigan, for Democratic candidates to be supportive of LGBT equality, but only if someone else brings up the subject. The way of the savvy politician here has always been to acknowledge your position pro or con and then move onto economic issues as quickly as possible. Move along. Nothing to see here. But Mark Schauer isn’t just announcing he’s gay-friendly, he is using marriage equality as a major issue in his campaign.
The link Mark posted on Facebook did not lead to the standard campaign donation page I expected to find. It led to a sign up “petition” for people who are pro-marriage equality. It’s a common way for politicians to gather email addresses for fundraising and to find dedicated campaign volunteers – Michiganders interested in an issues the campaign intends to highlight. The more someone cares about marriage equality, the harder they’ll work for a candidate who supports it.
The hidden message in that Facebook link, is that Mark Schauer plans on making Governor Rick Snyder’s anti-equality stance front and center as a campaign issue.
Mark Schauer was minority leader of the Michigan House, a member of the Michigan Senate, and his wife Christine is Calhoun County Treasurer. He is an experienced politician. Yet he seems to have made the political calculation that hearts and minds have changed since 2004, when a “DOMA” amendment was approved by Michigan voters.
Michigan has a court challenge to its same-sex marriage ban set to be argued in February. The plaintiffs in the case, Jayne and April DeBoer Rowse, are an ER nurse and a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse with three adopted children, (and often temporary foster children in their care) who want their kids to have the same benefits as any other two parent family.
The visuals of Mark Schauer championing the family that Governor Snyder won’t recognize could work really well. And if Judge Friedman, who is hearing the case, rules in favor of Jayne and April as expected, (The judge suggested they broaden their original adoption complaint to include the marriage ban.) Mark will be on the right side of history, while Gov. Snyder will be the mean old man who tried to keep the special needs tots and the women who saved them from being a family.
“Mark Schauer” is not a well-known name in Michigan, at least outside the Battle Creek area (Home of Kellogg’s Cereal and a huge Air National Guard base.) but polls already show him neck and neck with Governor Snyder. The Rothenberg Reports has the race as a toss up.
From the Mark Schauer For Governor campaign website:
Michigan is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. But under Rick Snyder, many people – especially women and the LGBT community – are being left behind.
After promising to focus on our economic problems, Gov. Snyder has signed bills that banned domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, and limited access to basic health care services for women. Gov. Snyder has also refused to support equal pay legislation, and his administration has opposed adoption cases for loving, committed same-sex couples.
Mark Schauer understands that in order to build a talented workforce and compete for good-paying jobs, Michigan needs to be a more welcoming and inclusive state….
…He also supports legislation to strengthen the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act by protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination, and he supports marriage equality. Mark is committed to building a stronger Michigan for everyone.
We will keep an eye on the Schauer For Governor campaign’s use of the marriage-equality issue.
Things just got interesting in Michigan.
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