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MLive story fails to provide background on lawyer defending the couple that owns a wedding venue and refuses to provide service to those in the LGTBQ community

October 6, 2022

On Wednesday, MLive posted a story entitled, Grand Rapids wedding venue owners who say they won’t host LGBTQ marriage events get civil infraction.

Apparently, the City of Grand Rapids has decided that the refusal by the owners to serve the LGBTQ community is a violation of the City’s Human Rights Ordinance.

The lawyer defending the couple responded to this decision from the City of Grand Rapids, by stating, “We’re going to vigorously oppose this. They’re totally unspecific here of what it is they’re claiming my client did, but the bottom line is we’re going to oppose any claim we committed any wrong here. Obviously, based on their First Amendment rights, that trumps any ordinance (claiming) discrimination here.”

The lawyer representing the wedding venue couple, is David Kallman, with the Kallman Legal Group, something the MLive article failed to mention. In fact, this was not the only omission on the part of MLive, when it came to Kallman, a lawyer who has a history of representing and supporting far right organizations and issues throughout Michigan.

If MLive were to scratch the surface a bit more on who David Kallman is, they would not have to look very hard to find out that he is one of the preferred lawyers for those in the far right camp. For instance, this is not the first time that Kallman has defended people or organizations that are anti-LGBTQ. 

David Kallman is also legal counsel for the Great Lakes Justice Center, which has a long history of defending religious groups that are anti-LGBTQ. GRIID wrote about the Great Lakes Justice Center in 2020, when they sued Gov. Whitmer for the Stay at Home orders. At that time we wrote: 

The Great Lakes Justice Center, which filed the lawsuit, has a long history of defending religious groups that actively discriminate against the LGBTQ community. A Lansing-based news source, City Pulse, reported on one example  and the ACLU has documented other cases against the Great Lakes Justice Center.  The Great Lakes Justice Center is part of group Salt & Light Global, which was founded by William Wagner. Salt & Light Global embraces a far right political and religious worldview. The “Resources” section on their homepage is a who’s who of far right religious groups, including the Federalist Society, Hillsdale College, Wall Builders, the Discovery Institute and the Acton Institute.

Kallman has represented numerous businesses that sought to challenge the Stay at Home orders that were put in place as a response to the COVID 19 pandemic, beginning in late March of 2020, cases that are sourced here.

In The Center Square article sourced in the previous paragraph, Kallman is standing with a business owner in front of a backdrop put up by the group Stand Up Michigan. Stand Up Michigan has been a group that came into being in response to the COVID 19 pandemic and believes that, “COVID was weaponized to rip away our constitutional liberties, close our businesses and fundamentally alter our psyches.” 

Some of the leadership of Stand Up Michigan host a podcast known as Live with Stand Up Michigan. Here is a sample of one of their shows where David Kallman was the guest. 

The last important piece of background information on David Kallman, the lawyer defending the couple who refuse to serve members of the LGBTQ community at their wedding venue, is the issue of abortion. MLive should have easily picked up on this matter and included it in their story about the wedding venue, especially since MLive posted a story about the fact that David Kallman was representing two Republican County Prosecutors in Michigan regarding the 1931 Abortion Ban law that the courts have said are not enforceable. An MLive article from August 16 states:

Oakland County Circuit Judge Jacob Cunningham quashed the subpoena and David Kallman, a Lansing lawyer representing prosecutors Jerard Jarzynka of Jackson County and Christopher Becker of Kent County, appealed to the higher court. Becker and Jarzynka previously said they would charge providers under the law, which makes procuring a miscarriage illegal except to save a mother’s life.

The fact that Kallman is representing Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker, should have been included in this article about the couple who is refusing to allow LGBTQ people from using their wedding venue on religious grounds, not just because Becker is the Kent County Prosecutor, but because the abortion issue is such a critical issue in Michigan right now.

While we have come to recognize that MLive often falls short of providing more robust coverage on the critical issues of the day, that standard should not be tolerated. It is unacceptable for news agencies to not inform the public about a lawyer who has a long history of defending individuals and organizations that embrace far right politics, a politics that not only does real harm to people, it threatens public health. 

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