LGBT

Stateside
3:58 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

The Gay Christian Network's founder spreads his message to Michigan

Justin Lee
Wikipedia

"Let's agree to disagree, and then find ways to be witnesses for Christ together."

That is the message of the Gay Christian Network, which calls itself the nation's "largest interdenominational LGBT Christian organization."

The founder of the Gay Christian Network is Justin Lee. He's in West Michigan this week, one of the most "religiously conservative" areas of the state. Last night he spoke at Calvin College and this Friday he will speak at the "Room For All" National Conference at Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.

Justin Lee joined us on Wednesday today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Investigative
10:10 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Meet the couple challenging Michigan's gay marriage ban

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse wanted to jointly adopt their children. The State of Michigan argued they couldn't because they were not married. Now the couple is challenging the ban on gay marriage.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Hear from April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the couple challenging Michigan's gay marriage ban.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse wanted to jointly adopt their children.

In the years that they’ve lived together, Rowse has adopted two children, and DeBoer adopted one, splitting the responsibilities of parenthood together. But a state ban on same-sex joint adoptions prohibited them from officially adopting their children together.

So in January 2012, DeBoer and Rowse filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing that preventing such adoptions violated rights of their children.

But U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman told the couple to take their complaint further — challenge the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

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Education
12:38 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Ferndale LGBT center launches alternative high school

The Affirmations Alternative High School program is geared towards students who have a hard time in traditional schools.
Credit User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Affirmations, an LGBT community center in Ferndale, has launched an alternative high school program with the Michigan Educational Partnership.

The program is geared toward students who have dropped out or are having a hard time in school, often due to harassment or bullying that is common for LGBT students.

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Investigative
12:44 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Being transgender in Michigan

Negotiating which bathroom to use is very frustrating for some transgender individuals.
user: sylvar Flickr

Part of the LGBT community is confusing to a lot of straight people and, really, some gay and lesbian people. The "T" in LGBT. Transgender people.

This piece includes the stories of two transgender women. Because their gender can cause confusion, Renee Knipe and Joanna Smith have struggled with things many people don't think about.

Knipe has been barred from using women's restrooms. Joanna Smith, who was once John Smith, is a father. 

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Investigative
8:10 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Moms fighting for joint adoption in Michigan end up challenging gay marriage ban

(l to r) Nolan (age 4), Ryanne (age 3), and Jacob (age 3) are the reasons Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer ended up challenging Michigan's Constitutional ban against same-sex marriage at the suggestion of the judge hearing their case.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Nolan, Ryanne, and Jacob were excited about showing me their toys when I visited the home of Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer.

These three little kids have no idea that their moms are in the middle of one of the most closely watched federal court cases in Michigan.

Rowse, who is the legal parent of Nolan and Jacob, and DeBoer, who is Ryanne’s legal parent, have been raising the kids together -- jointly sharing their lives and responsibilities.

The two nurses wanted to jointly adopt their kids to better protect their futures.

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Politics & Culture
4:52 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Stateside for Monday, September 23rd, 2013

In a few weeks, a U.S. District judge will hold a hearing on a Michigan case that challenges the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage. On today's show: we explored the implications the case could have in Michigan and across the nation.

Also on today's show, Michigan wines are really making a name for themselves outside of the state. We talked to a connoisseur who isn't the least bit surprised by that news. And, according to a new report, lobbyist spending on free lunches for legislators has gone up. We spoke to Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network to see what else they are spending on. Also, The Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference was this past weekend. It's Just Politics co-hosts Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark joined us to talk about what happened there.

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Stateside
4:40 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Michigan's gay marriage ban will be challenged in court in less than a month

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

On October 16th,  U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman will be hearing a case, which challenges Michigan’s Constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The case didn’t start out that way. It started out as a court case to simply protect the futures of these three little kids who really don’t understand such things as government and lawyers and courts. They only know they have a happy home with their two moms.

DeBoer and Rowse wanted to jointly adopt their kids to better protect their futures. The State of Michigan argued, no way. They can’t. They’re not married.

Their case has become the most anticipated development in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people’s rights in Michigan. They’re involved in a Federal court case that challenges the state’s Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

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Politics & Government
10:22 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights celebrates 50 years

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights was created as part of the state constitution drafted in 1963. It’s charged with enforcing civil rights laws and preventing discrimination.

Leslee Fritz is the department’s interim director. She told a group in Grand Rapids Tuesday night the state has come a long way to ensure civil rights in the last five decades.

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Opinion
9:12 am
Tue September 10, 2013

The fastest cultural attitude shift is over LGBT rights

Lessenberry commentary for 9/10/13

There’s something fascinating about the period in which two cultures or technologies clash. Usually, it is clear after a few months or years which side is going to win. But there are always holdouts. Sometimes these struggles are intense, short and complete, as when the VHS format for videotapes defeated the Betamax technology back in the early 1980s. It took somewhat longer for DVDs to beat out videotapes, but it was again clear which would win.

Sometimes the old technology hangs on, at least with a small minority or a set of hobbyists. People still ride horses, and there is somewhat of a retro boomlet in vinyl records. Print is clearly giving way to online, but I suspect some dead tree publications will remain.

Interestingly, much the same sort of thing happens in terms of culture. There is little doubt that marijuana for recreational use will eventually be completely tolerated, if not legalized.

Those of us over 60 can remember when it was scandalous for a young couple to live together before marriage. Today, it’s widely seen as normal, outside some conservative religious circles.

But I don’t think I have ever seen a faster sea change in terms of cultural attitudes than in issues involving human sexuality.  Nearly one-fifth of all Michiganders now live in communities with ordinances protecting LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) citizens from housing or employment discrimination. Nearly all have done this in the last few years, and more are certain to follow before this year is out, according to a report in the Gongwer News Service yesterday.  

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Politics & Government
11:25 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Gay rights leaders welcome IRS tax ruling, say Michigan will need to address confusion

Domestic partner benefits include benefits to gay and non-gay couples.
user dbking Flickr

The IRS says same-sex couples legally wed in a state that allows it will be recognized as married for federal tax purposes -- even if they reside in a state like Michigan that does not allow same-sex marriage.

It’s not clear yet how the state will deal with the ruling.

Gay rights leaders say the IRS decision is very good news.

Emily Dievendorf is the director of Equality Michigan.

“So, while the federal government is now helping to provide some equality in federal income tax credits and child tax credits, Michigan tax credits do not apply to same-sex couples and families,” said Dievendorf.

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Politics & Government
10:21 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

The clock may soon be ticking on Lansing's sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia

A view of the Capitol building in Lansing.
Matthileo Flickr

The Sister Cities relationship between Lansing and St. Petersburg, Russia might have a limited future. 

Lansing has had a sister cities relationship with St. Petersburg since the early 1990’s, though the exchange program has been dormant for many years.     The push to formally sever the relationship came after St. Petersburg enacted an anti-gay ordinance and arrested LGBT activists in recent weeks.

Jody Washington is a Lansing city councilwoman.   She plans to introduce a resolution next week setting a timeline for reviewing the relationship.

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Politics & Government
6:45 am
Mon July 22, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit bankruptcy, Flint school district deficit, St. Petersburg, Russia

Morning News Roundup for Monday, July 22, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Detroit bankruptcy is topic of national conversation

Snyder, Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing appeared on Sunday morning talk shows yesterday to talk about filing bankruptcy for Detroit. Snyder said he will push to protect the retired city workers whose pensions are on the table. He said the bankruptcy filing included protections for retirees and urged them to remain calm. Orr said on "Fox News Sunday" that there are going to have to be "concessions." Bing on ABC's "This Week" said now that bankruptcy has been filed, leaders have to take a step back before making a decision on a federal bailout.

Flint school district faces more budget cuts

The Flint School Board will take up a Deficit Elimination Plan tomorrow night. The district is wrestling with a nearly 16 million dollar deficit. The Flint school district has made deep budget cuts but more cuts are likely if the district follows the plan to eliminate its deficit by June 2016. The Flint School Board has until July 31st to send its deficit elimination plan to the state.  

Lansing may end its relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia

The Lansing city council will be meeting tonight to discuss its sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia. St. Petersburg recently passed an anti-gay ordinance and police there arrested people at an LGBT rally. Members say they want to send a message to St. Petersburg officials by canceling Lansing’s two decade sister cities relationship with the city.

Politics & Government
3:09 pm
Sun July 21, 2013

Lansing leaders will discuss their Sister-City relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia

Lansing City Hall (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Possibly ending the city of Lansing’s sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia will be the topic of a meeting tomorrow evening.

St. Petersburg recently passed an anti-gay ordinance and police there arrested people at an LGBT rally.

Some Lansing city council members say they want to send a message to St. Petersburg officials by canceling Lansing’s 2 decade old sister cities relationship with the Russian city.

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Politics & Government
6:51 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Anti-gay laws in Russia may end sister-city relationship in Michigan

A protester is arrested during an LGBT rally in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 29, 2013.
Nikolai Alekseev/Facebook

The city of Lansing may end its sister-city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Russian city recently passed an anti-homosexual ordinance and arrested people during a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rally.

Jody Washington is a Lansing City Council member. She says Michigan’s capital city shouldn’t have any kind of friendly agreement with a city that violates human rights.

Law
4:57 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

These are the Michigan families that challenged the law banning domestic partner benefits

Four of the couples who challenged the Act Snyder signed into law in December of 2011
Credit Courtesy of the ACLU

Governor Rick Snyder signed the Public Employee Domestic Partner Benefit Restriction Act into law in December of 2011.

It banned public employers from providing benefits to non-married domestic partners. Its intent was to keep gay and lesbian employees from providing benefits to their partners.

At the time, Gov. Snyder pointed out that the law didn't apply to state universities and some state workers. But it did apply to other public employees, including public school teachers.

A lawsuit, Basset et al v. Snyder, challenged the Act shortly after it went into effect.

Today, a federal judge released a preliminary injunction against that law, meaning that gay and lesbian public employees can't be denied health insurance anymore.

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Law
1:40 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Judge strikes down Michigan ban on partner benefits

A federal judge struck down a Michigan law that denies health care to gay and lesbian partners
Flickr/Marlith

In a preliminary ruling, a federal judge has struck down a state law that prohibits public employers from offering health coverage and other benefits to the live-in partners of gay and lesbian employees.

The state law was aimed at at least 10 Michigan school districts, municipalities, counties, and community colleges that made provisions to ensure the benefits of employees in same-sex relationships covered by their partners and any children they might be raising together. That after voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in the Michigan Constitution.

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Politics & Government
10:52 am
Thu June 27, 2013

After Supreme Court rulings, advocates ready to fight for gay rights in Michigan

Gay rights advocates.
Aimee Hechler imgur.com

Listen to Rick Pluta's full story above.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on gay marriage don’t really change the legal status of same-sex couples in Michigan. In 2004, voters amended the Michigan Constitution to enact a sweeping ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

But there’s a lot happening on the issue in courts, the Legislature, and on the campaign trail.

The Supreme Court’s decision returns gay marriage battles to Michigan and the 34 other states that prohibit same-sex marriage.

Gay rights groups here have set their sights on November of 2016. That’s when they hope to run a ballot question to reverse the state’s gay marriage ban. 

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Stateside
6:06 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Michigan House Democrats introduce new same-sex marriage bills

LGBT rainbow flag flapping in the sun
user Marlith Flickr

An interview with Rick Pluta.

This morning, some Michigan House Democrats gathered on the front lawn of the Capital to explain some new bills that would allow marriage for people who are gay or lesbian.

Polls of Michigan citizens indicate a growing number of people say it’s time for marriage equality for LGBT folks - about 57% approve.

That’s quite a turnaround. Just nine years ago the people of Michigan approved a state constitutional amendment specifically banning gay marriage. It passed by nearly 59%.

In the midst of this, we’re waiting for decisions on two gay rights issues in the U.S. Supreme Court. To help wade through all this and what it means is Rick Pluta, capital bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
2:58 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Bolger considers adding sexual orientation to civil rights law

Gays and lesbians in Michigan could be protected from discrimination if sexual orientation is added to the state's civil rights law.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Michigan State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) could be opening the door to extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians. That would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in areas such as employment and housing.

The state's civil rights act protects a variety of groups from discrimination. It includes protections for categories like race and age, but sexual orientation has yet to be included.

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Investigative
7:00 am
Wed June 12, 2013

How adoption agencies discriminate against hopeful LGBT parents

stevendamrun Flickr

Listen to the story.

If you’re gay or lesbian and you want to adopt a child, not every adoption agency in Michigan will be willing to help. If you do find an agency that will help, you might run into more discrimination.

Even if you have a home, pass the background checks, and otherwise meet the state requirements for adoption, you can be turned down by an adoption agency if you don’t meet its standards.

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