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Equality Rally in Lansing today challenges Michigan lawmakers who ended domestic partner benefits

January 19, 2012

About 150 people gathered today in front of the State Capitol building on downtown Lansing to protest the recent decision by State Legislators and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to end domestic partner benefits for public employees.

The rally featured speakers from across the state including Ann Arbor, Saginaw and Kalamazoo. West Michigan was represented by people from the GVSU LGBT Resource Center, The Network, West Michigan Pride and Until Love is Equal. Much of the commentary focused on how the LGBT community is outraged that the state would target their community with such a draconian policy.

Some speakers noted that Michigan is a state where anyone who identifies as LGBT or is perceived to be LGBT can be fired from their job, can not legally get married and are the subject of constant harassment and bullying. Add on to that the couples whom now do not have health care benefits because of this new legislation that took effect on January 1st.

Several of the speakers targeted the Republican legislators, which overwhelmingly endorsed the legislation. People also talked about voting out those of push the anti-domestic partner benefits legislation and encouraged people to sign a petition that was circulating in the crowd. It is worth noting that this legislation was first introduced by West Michigan Representative Dave Agema.

Early on in the rally, Rep. Agema passed those protesting, which caused many of those outside to boo him as he crossed the Capitol building walkway. After the rally a handful of those from West Michigan visited Agema’s office to confront him personally. Unfortunately, Agema was not in, but some people left messages with his staff.

TV trucks were parked outside the Capitol building the whole time the protest was taking place in preparation for tonight’s State of the State address from Snyder. Not surprisingly, none of the TV stations bothered to interview or film today’s rally.

The following video includes excellent comments from Dave Garcia with the Detroit-based LGBT group Affirmations and a brief interview with ACLU lawyer Jay Kaplan, who spoke about the legal and real world consequences of this new state policy.

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