Politics

Michigan Residents Gain Signatures to Prohibit LGBTQ Discrimination

Michigan Gains 100,000 Signatures to stop discrimination within the LGBTQ community.

A coalition of civil rights, business and political leaders are launching a petition to expand Michigan law by including anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender residents. It was an idea first proposed in the year 1983 and has grown extremely popular due to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. Trevor Thomas, a co-chair of the new Fair and Equal Michigan ballot committee and board chair for Equality Michigan Action stated, "We just want to be judged on the job we do — not who we are or who we love—and we want to be treated equally in the eyes of government."


Fair and Equal Michigan was created on Tuesday, January 7th, with the goal to create a citizens' bill in the State Legislature after advocates collect 340,047 citizen signatures. Then, after 40 days, the Legislature will have to adopt the action as written or send it for the voters to decide on. Supporters of this include the leaders of DOW, Consumers Energy and DTE energy and also Tim Cook who is the chief executive of Apple.

"In just five weeks, we've scaled from zero to 628 fully trained volunteers along with a 145-person paid field team that led to our 100,000th signature collected. With broad support across the state our effort continues to be on time, on budget and at signature quality. After 37 years of attempts, it is time for the Legislature to give all Michiganders a fair and equal chance to succeed," Trevor said.

Current Michigan law prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, etc. While similar anti-discrimination proposals have been pushed since 2014, GOP leaders have not acted on any of those calls that have been made.

"Advancing the fair treatment of all people - regardless of their race, religion, disability, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity - is a key component of retaining and growing a world-class, talented workforce," Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe said in a statement.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, has previously questioned the need for LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections and won the election in 2014 when they defeated a republican who enforced gay rights legislation.

"You've seen these laws passed in other states where what happens, in my opinion, is a reverse discrimination against those who have religious beliefs," stated Chatfield.

In order for the ballot to be recognized, the organizers will need at least 340,047 valid voter signatures within 180 days to qualify for the 2020 election, but before that, they will ask the Board Of State Canvassers to approve the form of petition before they can circle and start the signatures. State lawmakers will still have "a chance to lead," Thomas told Bridge Magazine in a phone interview.

Working with the new ballot committee, Richard Czbua asked 600 Michigan voters whether an employer should be fired because of their sexual orientation conflict with the employee's beliefs. Eighty-three percent of respondents said "no," according to Czuba, who attributed growing support for anti-discrimination protections primarily to a shift by Republican voters.

"There are very few issues that have polled this way in Michigan," he said. "Auto insurance reform is one. Protecting the Great Lakes is another. And this is the third I think that polls at this kind of level across the partisan divide."

If this petition is executed, Michigan would join 21 other states with laws that already prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the non-profit Movement Advancement Project.

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Race

How a White Gay Dad Discusses Racial Issues with his Black Sons

In light of the recent killing of George Floyd by the hands of police in Minneapolis, Joseph Sadusky shares two excerpts from his book that deal directly with issues around raising black sons.

Editor's Note: In light of George Floyd's death, this month, author Joseph Sadusky — who has been sharing excerpts from his book Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad each month —will share two posts that deal directly with issues around raising black sons. This is the first, titled "White," which looks at general questions that come up for a white dad raising black boys. Read previous installments here.

It may be presumptuous for a Caucasian gay man to claim to feel terrified and heartsick at the shooting of Trayvon Martin. But upon hearing the news that day in 2012, this is exactly how I felt.

The horrible truth is that there are many incidents of racial violence toward black males that I could use as starting points for this topic. But the specific case of Trayvon Martin—whose only crime was being a young black male wearing a hoodie, walking in a neighborhood where he had a home—has a particular resonance for me. Whatever the legalities of George Zimmerman using a gun to "stand his ground" if he felt his life was threatened, the simple truth is that he chose—against the direction of law enforcement, whom he contacted for support—to follow an African American male who had every right to be walking those neighborhood streets, however "thug" he might appear.

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Become a Gay Dad

Curious About Covid 19's Impact on Foster Care and Adoption?

Leading industry experts answer questions from queer men about the impact of Covid-19 on the adoption and foster care processes.

Recently, GWK hosted a series of free webinars with leading experts led by industry experts in the fields of adoption and foster care to learn about up-to-date insights on how the coronavirus affects family building. The presentations left lots of room for audience Q&A, to allow participants to get their individual questions answered — there were some common questions raised during each webinar, however, so we've put together a quick video of our experts answering some of the top concerns from queer men interested in pursuing surrogacy.

Our team of experts include:

Have other questions about the impact of the coronavirus on adoption or foster care that you'd like our experts to answer? Be sure to email us at dads@gayswithkids.com.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Top 5 Questions About Covid-19's Impact On Surrogacy

Leading industry experts answer questions from queer men about the impact of Covid-19 on the surrogacy process.

Recently, GWK hosted a series of free webinars with leading experts led by industry experts in the field of surrogacy to learn about up-to-date insights on how the coronavirus affects family building. The presentations left lots of room for audience Q&A, to allow participants to get their individual questions answered — there were some common questions raised during each webinar, however, so we've put together a quick video of our experts answering some of the top concerns from queer men interested in pursuing surrogacy.

Our team of experts include:

Have other questions about the impact of the coronavirus on surrogacy that you'd like our experts to answer? Be sure to email us at dads@gayswithkids.com.

Here is a breakdown of the Top 5 Questions About Covid 19's Impact On Surrogacy. These are highlights taken from our live webinar series we held featuring: G...

Transracial Families Series

How These Dads Address White Privilege within Their Transracial Family

The "white savior" complex is real, said Andrew and Don, who are raising two Black children.

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of ongoing posts exploring issues related to transracial families headed by gay, bi and trans men. Interested in being featured as part of the series? Email us at dads@gayswithkids.com

Andrew Kohn, 40, and his husband Donald (Don) Jones, 47, together 13 years, are two white dads raising two Black children in Columbus, Ohio. Do they stick out? Sure. Have they encountered racism? They say they haven't. "I keep waiting for the moment so that I can become my best Julia Sugarbaker," said Andrew. "I think because we're a gay couple with Black kids, we're the other-other and people don't really say things to us. We have never had people touch our kids hair or do something that was inappropriate."

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Children's Books

New LGBTQ-Inclusive Children's Book Asks: What Makes a Family?

A new children's book by Seamus Kirst follows a young girl's journey of emotional discovery after she is asked which of her two dads is her "real dad."

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Seamus Kirst, author of the new LGBTQ-inclusive children's book "Papa, Daddy, Riley."

Throughout my life, I have discovered that reading provides an almost miraculous way of changing the way I think.

There is no medium that better offers insight into the perceptions, feelings and humanity of someone who is different from us. Through reading we become empathetic. Through reading we evolve. I have often emerged from reading a book, and felt like I was changed. In that, even in this digital age, I know I am not alone.

As children, reading shapes how we see the world. The characters, places, and stories we come to love in our books inform us as to what life might offer us as we grow up, and our world begins to expand beyond our own backyards.

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Gay Dad Photo Essays

Interested in Foster Care? These Amazing Dads Have Some Advice

As National Foster Care Month comes to a close, we rounded up some amazing examples of gay men serving as foster care dads, helping provide kids with a bright future.

Every May in the United States, we celebrate National Foster Care Month. With over 437,000 children and youth in foster care, it's our honor to take a look at some of the awesome dads in our community who are opening their hearts and their homes, and providing these kids with a bright future.

Thinking about becoming a foster parent? Check out these resources here, and visit AdoptUSKids.

Meet the Foster Dads!

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Transracial Families Series

This Transracial Family Relies on a 'Support Group' of African American Women

Puerto Rican dads Ferdinand and Manuel are raising a daughter of Jamaican descent — and love to find ways to celebrate their family's diversity

Our second feature in our transracial family series. Read the first one here.

Ferdinand Ortiz, 39, and his husband Manuel Gonzalez, 38, have been together for 7 years. In 2017, they became foster dads when they brought their daughter, Mia Valentina, home from the hospital. She was just three days old at the time. On December 13, 2018, her adoption was finalized.

Mia is of Jamaican and African American heritage, and her dads are both Puerto Rican. When Manuel and Ferdinand began their parenting journey through the foster care system, they received specific training on how to be the parents of a child whose race and culture was different from their own. "We learned that it's important to celebrate our child's culture and surround ourselves with people who can help her be proud of her culture." However, as helpful as this training was, the dads agreed that it would've been beneficial to hear from other transracial families and the type of challenges that they faced.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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