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Michigan Civil Rights Commission Endorses Model Local LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 1.29.36 PMThe Michigan Civil Rights Commission endorsed a model local non-discrimination ordinance that covers sexual orientation and gender identity at a meeting held at the Holocaust Memorial Center on Monday reports the Daily Reporter. The ordinance states that no one should be denied "civil rights or be discriminated against," on the basis of gender expression, identity and sexual orientation. The model also bars bias based on education, age, disability, race, sex, religion, weight, national origin, marriage or family status. Commission Chairman Arthur Horwitz stated that the ordinance is designed to provide a more cohesive anti-discrimination view for over 30 Michigan municipalities.

Said Horwitz:

"The concept of developing a model non-discrimination ordinance grew from the fact that more than 30 Michigan municipalities have non-discrimination ordinances that vary significantly in their structure, wording and scope... developed model language that municipalities could access if, in their own discretion, they decided they wanted a starting point for their own discussions and deliberations."

In a January appearance before the commission, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder expressed hope that the GOP-controlled Michigan legislature would continue discussing a bill to add protections for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people to the state civil rights law. However, House Speaker Kevin Cotter, a Midland Republican and American Family Association of Michigan leader, believes the measure is unnecessary saying that gay and gender identity laws are a "solution in search of a nonexistent problem," and that they "have a history of themselves being discriminatory" in forcing people to choose between their morals or religious beliefs.


Michigan Doctor Cites Religious Beliefs in Her Cowardly Refusal To Treat Lesbian Couple’s Baby: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 6.57.34 AM

A Michigan lesbian couple has been left reeling and hurt after a doctor they were referred to agreed to post-natal care for the couple’s newborn daughter, but later reneged, Detroit's Fox 2 reports. Krista and Jami Contreras, who married in Vermont in 2012, were referred to Dr. Vesna Roi in September by their midwife before the birth of their baby Bay Windsor in October 2014. "We were really happy with her," Krista said of the couple’s initial meeting with Roi, "The kind of care she offered, we liked her personality, she seemed pretty friendly. She seemed pretty straight up with us." 

WindsorHowever, the Contreras went in to see Dr. Roi six days after Bay’s birth and found themselves face-to-face with a different doctor. Roi’s replacement, Dr. Melinda Karam, told the couple that Roi "decided this morning that she prayed on it and she won't be able to care for Bay," and that Roi didn’t even come into the office that day to avoid seeing the couple. The Contreras felt humiliated and embarrassed with Roi’s decision.

Said Jami Contreras:

"It was embarrassing, it was humiliating and here we are, new parents trying to protect her, and we know this happens in the world and we're completely prepared for this to happen other places. But not at our six-day-old's wellness appointment." 

The couple proceeded with Dr. Karam and later sought another pediatric group for their baby. The couple took to social media to share their story, which raised awareness and led people to start calling Eastlake Pediatrics to share their concerns. Nearly four months after the appointment, the Contreras finally received a letter from Roi.

RoiSaid Roi:

"After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that i would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients."

 "We do not keep prenatal information once we have our meetings so I had no way to contact you."

"I should have spoken with you directly that day. Please know that I believe that God gives us free choice and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice."

Watch a Fox 2 report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

The American Medical Association prohibits physicians refusing care to patients based on sexual orientation, but doctors can refuse treatment if it conflicts with their personal, religious or moral beliefs. Michigan currently does not have laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families from discrimination. 

Continue reading "Michigan Doctor Cites Religious Beliefs in Her Cowardly Refusal To Treat Lesbian Couple’s Baby: VIDEO" »


Detroit Minister Sues Michigan For The Right To Conduct Same-Sex and Polygamous Marriages

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 2.36.41 PMA bold Detroit minister filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan, alleging state law violates his right to religious freedom by barring him from conducting same-sex and polygamous marriages reports The Detroit NewsRev. Neil Patrick Carrick filed the lawsuit on Monday against Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette, citing that the state's ban on such unions runs counter to the First Amendment and 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Carrick issued a stoic statement on the matter Tuesday.

Said Carrick:

"Churches should have the right to marry who they want to marry. I've been told by others that 'we would love to marry (gays and lesbians) but we can't because we would be breaking the law.'

"The state of Michigan does not have the right to tell us what to do in our church."

In the lawsuit, Carrick claims the state engages in "the disparate treatment" of gays, lesbians and what he calls "plural relationships." Carrick, a former pastor with the United Church of Christ, says he turned down requests from same-sex to marry because he would be breaking state law. Michigan law states that someone who knowingly performs a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples is a punishable crime and carries a fine of up to $500. "Michigan officials create discrimination and potentially prosecution of private conduct between consenting adults without requiring law enforcement officials to show harm to society or those involved," Carrick said.

Gina Calcagno, the campaign manager for Michigan for Marriage, an advocacy group that wholeheartedly supports same-sex marriage, said many religious are eager to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples. "They are just waiting for the state to catch up," said Calcagno. The United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit last April against the state of North Carolina arguing that the state's marriage law violates the First Amendment rights of clergy to "free exercise of religion." A federal judge struck down the North Carolina law in October.

A spokesman for the Michigan Attorney General's Office declined to comment about the lawsuit Tuesday. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review a case challenging Michigan's gay marriage ban. 


Gay Advocacy Group Equality Michigan Receives $3 Million Donation From Co-founder's Estate

Equality michigan

LGBT advocacy group Equality Michigan has received a $3 million donation from co-founder Dr. Henry Messer, reports Lansing State Journal.

Messer, a neurosurgeon, gay rights activist and co-founder of Triangle Foundation, which merged with Michigan Equality to form Equality Michigan in 2010, died in February at the age of 86.

With his partner of more than 60 years Carl House, Messer was a lifelong LGBTQ activist who got involved in the movement after being discharged from the military during World War II.

 

Equality Michigan announced that more than $1 million was given directly to the statewide anti-violence and political advocacy organization to support policy and victim services work, while another $2 million went to the organization’s endowment.

In a statement, Joy Geng, vice chair of the Equality Michigan board of trustees, said:

Messer"Henry [pictured far right with partner Carl House] was one of the most amazing people I have ever met, and one of my dearest friends. He dedicated his life to helping those most in need and did not just dream of a future where all LGBT people could live safely and openly, but committed his time, talent, and resources to making that dream a reality.

“Out of the tragedy that he did not live to see his dream fulfilled comes an historic opportunity for Equality Michigan to finish the work he started and make that dream come true for future generations. I am confident that our team will not let him down, and that his legacy will live on through the organization he loved so much for decades to come."


Detroit Area Catholic High School Administrators to Review Policies After Firing Pregnant Gay Teacher

Webb

Administrators at a Detroit-area Catholic high school have announced they will review policies and procedures following the controversial firing of a gay teacher who claimed she was sacked last month because of her pregnancy, The Detroit News reports:

Mary Jane Herb, president of the Monroe-based Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in a letter to supporters this week referred to "the recent employment matter" and "a complexity of issues" facing the Catholic church and its schools. She did not specifically name Barbara Webb, the teacher who was terminated last month from the private, all-girls Bloomfield Hills school.

"Consequently, we need to have ongoing education and a new lens through which to view issues and situations that are emerging," Herb wrote in the letter dated Monday. "Pope Francis has brought a sense of hope to our lives and encourages us to look at our Church with new eyes. No, it is not likely that doctrine will change, however the Pope emphasizes that the values of mercy, inclusion and compassion need to be included in our response to complex situations."

Earlier this month, Webb revealed that her termination letter didn't give any reasons for the firing, but that previous conversations with school officials pointed to her violating a morality clause allowing for firing over public conduct of "lifestyle or action directly contradictory to the Catholic faith."

The Detroit News adds that a change.org petition asking the high school to end its discriminatory anti-LGBT policies has gathered nearly 70,000 signatures.


Black Pastors Invoke Martin Luther King, Form Alliance Against Same-Sex Marriage - VIDEO

Stacy swimp
(Pastor Stacy Swimp)

A coalition of black pastors and supporters has said it will file legal briefs in more than 80 court cases involving lawsuits to legalize same-sex marriage, reports The Detroit News.

Flint, Michigan Pastor Stacy Swimp said at a press conference yesterday that he also wants to see a boycott against black-owned media and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for supporting marriage equality.

The press conference was organized by the coalition and right wing legal groups Thomas More Law Center which is filing the briefs on the pastors’ behalf.

Swimp announced that the coalition’s members will speak out against judges who have ruled in favor of lifting voter-approved bans on gay marriage.

Claiming that marriage was defined by god, Swimp argued that the Constitution does not indicate “that equal justice under the law is relative to marriage redefinition."

Invoking Martin Luther King and with a massive lack of insight that prejudice exists outside the vacuum of his own little world, Swimp also announced on Facebook that he is "compelled to fight against the injustice of redefining marriage and against any and all false comparisons of sexual orientation to being Black- anywhere and everywhere that this hijacking of civil rights is taking place."

However, Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president and CEO of the NAACP said:

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people.”

Watch Swimp launch his defense of "traditional marriage," AFTER THE JUMP...

(Photo by Stacy Swimp.)

Continue reading "Black Pastors Invoke Martin Luther King, Form Alliance Against Same-Sex Marriage - VIDEO" »


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