By Brandon Hall
(Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)
After heated rhetoric from both sides, the bill to amend Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation was pronounced dead by many earlier this week, as Rep. Frank Foster failed to call for a vote on the issue in Committee because the votes aren't there.
|Rep. Frank Foster|
Speaker Bolger could discharge the bill to the entire floor, but he is unlikely to get the needed Democrat votes, as they are unhappy with the current version.
So, love it or hate it, what's next for Elliott-Larsen?
One high ranking source told me this week that Arlan Meekhof told him he would "never, ever" bring Elliott-Larsen to a vote in the Senate. The Michigan House is slightly more conservative than before, and nothing looks likely there, either.
This will likely be decided by voters.
Equality Michigan and other groups have long planned a huge effort in 2016 to put gay marriage back before Michigan voters.
Polls show between 52-56% of Michiganders would now vote for gay marriage.
However, support for amending Elliott-Larsen is much higher. Polls put support for including "LGBT" protections in Elliott-Larsen is consistently between 70-75%.
It would not be difficult for groups to simply also gather signatures for Elliott-Larsen. They will likely do so. And in a presidential year, they would likely win.
Speaker Bolger recognizes this, and perhaps that is why he pushed the idea of a corresponding "religious freedom" bill in an attempt to alleviate concerns about those issues in his caucus.
At the end of the day, Elliott-Larsen protections won't really do much. It's just more government. As Robert Kennedy noted decades ago:
"We must recognize that this short life can either be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge. Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land.
Of course, we cannot banish it with a program nor with a resolution. But we can perhaps remember, even if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers and sisters, that they share this same short moment of life, that they seek, as we do, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common good, can begin to teach us something. Surely we can learn at least to look at those around as fellow men and fellow women, surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts countrymen once again"
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
|Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson|