Michigan

PFAW and Allies Host Young Political Leaders Event at Netroots Nation in Detroit

As Netroots Nation wrapped up its visit to the Motor City on Saturday, PFAW partnered with LaunchProgress and the Michigan Democratic Party’s Youth Caucus to celebrate a strong slate of young progressive candidates running for office in the state.

The Young Political Leaders Happy Hour featured many of Michigan’s young progressive candidates and staff, who came together to network and talk politics following the closing session at Netroots Nation. In June PFAW announced its Michgan slate of Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program endorsees, some of whom were able to join the party at the end of a long day of knocking on doors in their districts.  

Thanks to all who joined us in Detroit!

PFAW

PFAW Action Fund Endorses Young Progressive Candidates in Michigan

People For the American Way Action Fund today endorsed a slate of young progressive candidates running for the Michigan State Legislature. The endorsements are part of PFAW Action Fund’s Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program that supports progressive candidates age 35 and younger. The Michigan candidates endorsed today are a diverse mix of progressive leaders who are positioned to make Michigan’s legislature be more inclusive and accountable.

“These candidates are the best and brightest young progressive candidates running for the legislature in Michigan,” said PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager. “They are people-oriented folks from all walks of life who will fight for social, economic, and environmental justice, and promote equality for all. Their leadership in their communities demonstrates a progressive vision that will benefit all Michiganders.”

People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to endorse the following Michigan YEP candidates for 2014:

•         Stephanie Chang – MI House District 6
•         Jon Hoadley – MI House District 60
•         David Knezek – MI Senate District 5
•         Kristy Pagan – MI House District 21
•         Rebecca Thompson – MI District 1
•         Robert Wittenberg – MI House District 27

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People For the American Way Action Fund Endorses Young Progressive Candidates in Michigan

People For the American Way Action Fund today announced its endorsements of a slate of young progressive candidates running for the Michigan State Legislature. The endorsees include a diverse mix of 35-and-younger candidates running for the Michigan state House of Representatives and state Senate, representing a new generation of progressive leaders who will put Michigan’s legislature back-on-track towards a common sense, inclusive, accountable public policy agenda for the state’s future. Their leadership represents a progressive vision that will benefit all Michiganders as they fight for social, economic, environmental justice and equality for all.

The endorsements are part of People For the American Way Action Fund’s Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program. YEP evaluates and endorses young progressive candidates age 35-and-younger in their bids for elected office around the U.S. at all levels.

People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to endorse these Michigan YEP candidates for 2014:

Stephanie Chang – MI House District 6

Running for Michigan’s House of Representatives District 6, Stephanie Chang is a Michigander whose dedication to the community has benefited many. Chang has worked around the state advocating for Affirmative Action, serving as a mentor for Detroit Asian Youth Project, and promoting a fair justice system. Chang’s knowledge and breadth of experience in Michigan make her an important leader for the state as she fights for social, economic, and environmental justice. Visit Stephanie’s page for more details.

Jon Hoadley – MI House District 60

Jon Hoadley is the clear choice to represent Michigan’s 60th District in the state House of Representatives. Hoadley, a small business owner and member of several advocacy organizations in Kalamazoo, is deeply ingrained and in tune with the needs of his community, which makes him the ideal representative. He has already worked to better Kalamazoo advocating for full LGBTQ equality, creating strong and sustainable public schools, and protecting the environment. Visit Jon’s page for more details.

David Knezek – MI Senate District 5

David Knezek is running for Michigan state Senate’s 5th District and has proven that he is the ideal candidate for the position. Knezek is a true leader, having been promoted to the rank of Sergeant during his time in the U.S. Marine Corps. At the University of Michigan-Dearborn, he was elected Student Government President, and in his senior year of college he was elected to be a Michigan state representative. Knezek has proven that he will advocate for his community and improve education, public safety, and job opportunities for Michigan citizens. Visit David’s page for more details.

Kristy Pagan – MI House District 21

Born and bred in Michigan, Kristy Pagan is the ideal candidate for the 21st District of Michigan’s state House of Representatives. She has worked in Washington, D.C. as a legislative aide and a national grassroots organizer. Her determination to serve coupled with her knowledge of and dedication to Michigan will serve the state well. Pagan is a true progressive, and has both the resolve and the passion to reform Michigan’s educational system, advocate for women and children, and improve job growth. Visit Kristy's page for more details.

Rebecca Thompson – MI District 1

Rebecca Thompson is running for election to the 1st District of the Michigan state House of Representatives. Thompson was born and raised in Detroit, and overcame experiences with poverty and homelessness to become a leader in the community. She has worked tirelessly to better Detroit for everyone, using her own experiences to positively impact those around her. Thompson is passionate about affordable education, improving safety, protecting women’s rights, and advocating for her community. Visit Rebecca's page for more details.

Robert Wittenberg – MI House District 27
                                                                                                                     
Robert Wittenberg is running to represent District 27 in the Michigan state House of Representatives. After being inspired by his parents’ and brothers’ work, he is determined to follow in their footsteps and serve his community. As a public servant, he advocates for full equality for the LGBTQ community, increased public transportation, and access to healthcare for all. Visit Robert's page for more details.

PFAW

Michigan Pastor Claims 'Enemies Of God' Are Behind Marriage Equality

Stacy Swimp, the Michigan pastor who has berated homosexuality as “genocidal” and “destructive,” told Janet Mefferd last Friday that marriage equality is a project of the “enemies of God.”

“The press, throughout the annals of modern history, has been used by the enemies of God to change culture and by using cultural change or influencing cultural change, the enemies of God have been able to create a moral collapse in our society and in our political realm,” Swimp said, before railing against “ravaged activist judges.”

Swimp has recently protested a Michigan court ruling in favor of marriage equality and a recent push to include sexual orientation protections in anti-discrimination laws.

GOP Congressman Set To Appear With Activist Who Wants Obama Killed For Treason

Republican congressman Kerry Bentivolio is set to appear at a right-wing conference taking place May 16-18 with an activist who believes President Obama should be killed. “The Freedom Summit: Prepare to Govern!,” organized by the Michigan Conservative Political Action Conference, is hosting the Michigan congressman along with Jim Garrow, a conservative conspiracy theorist who claims he used to be a US intelligence agent.

Other scheduled speakers include Paul Vallely, the former general who floated the idea of leading an anti-Obama “revolution”; RNC Committeeman Dave Agema, notorious for his anti-gay remarks; anti-Obama conspiracy theorist Trevor Loudon; conservative activist Cleta Mitchell and far-right professor and Michele Bachmann’s mentor John Eidsmoe.

Garrow has appeared on several fringe media outlets to promote his claim that Obama plotted to kill 300 million people through a nuclear EMP attack on America, which he said was attempted at the behest of George Soros.

He even alleged that the Obama administration is preparing to launch a new anti-American plot with the help of aliens and Canadian troops, warning that Obama seeks “to wipe us out.”

Garrow has claimed that President Obama and administration officials are “guilty of treason” and therefore “you’re supposed to hang them.” “Obama himself has been a traitor and been involved in treason against the Republic, for which you know the penalty is death,” he said.

He believes Obama “needs to be in fact tried for treason and of course the finality of that is a man gets either put up against a wall and shot or hung.”

Garrow also said Obama is like a “rabid dog” who needs to be “put down for the protection of the innocent and to prevent the spread of disease,” and in an interview with Erik Rush wondered why White House officials are “not going to be stoned to death or hung from gallows.”

Unsurprinsingly, he has repeatedly called for a military coup and a “guerrilla war” against Obama, or as he calls him “Bathhouse Barry.”

“Why is he still sitting in the Oval Office and not in chains and under arrest,” Garrow asked in one Facebook post.

When not calling for Obama’s death, Garrow concocts conspiracy theories about how Obama blew up the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, plans to impose Sharia law and guillotine executions and will declare himself to be the Twelfth Imam.

While it seems that Rep. Bentivolio, who has said he “dreams” of impeaching Obama, is set to share a stage with a conspiracy theorist who has made repeated statements demanding Obama’s execution, he wouldn’t be the first GOP congressman to link up with such an activist, as it was only last year that Rep. Steve Stockman invited Ted Nugent to the State of the Union Address after the musician called for Obama to “suck on my machine gun.”

Sotomayor's Schuette Dissent

Justice Sotomayor analyzes a state constitutional ban on affirmative action through the lens of history and the reality of race in America.
PFAW Foundation

Herman Cain's Website Upset That 'Vagina Woman' Running For Michigan Lt. Gov

Dan Calabrese, the editor-in-chief of Herman Cain’s Best of Cain website, is appalled that Michigan Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Mark Schauer has picked “Vagina Woman” Lisa Brown to be his running mate.

In 2012, Republicans in the Michigan House barred Brown, then a state representative, from speaking on the House floor after she used the word “vagina” in a speech against an anti-choice bill.

In a column titled “Democrats pick The Vagina Woman for Michigan's Lt. Governor” (url: “democrats-nominate-the-vagina”), Calabrese writes that Brown and Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis are “highly un-accomplished” and that their “main claim to fame is having talked publicly about their own sexual organs.”

“[I]t's worth taking a look when a candidate chooses a running mate with nothing much to recommend her except the fact that she once angrily mentioned one of her own body parts during a legislative session,” Calabrese adds, also objecting to the fact that Brown, who is now a county clerk, issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples this month in the days before a marriage equality ruling was stayed.

It is not normally worth much news coverage when a candidate picks a running mate, although it usually gets a fair amount because political junkies tend to be obsessed with such minutia. But it's worth taking a look when a candidate chooses a running mate with nothing much to recommend her except the fact that she once angrily mentioned one of her own body parts during a legislative session, and that brings us to Mark Schauer, Michigan's presumptive Democrat nominee for governor, and his new running mate, Lisa Brown[.]

...

But it's the same thing they did in Texas, where the highly un-accomplished Wendy Davis is being touted for governor because she got a lot of media attention for staging a talk-a-thon in protest of restrictions on abortion. That's not working out too well, as Davis is way behind in the polls and her campaign has been beset by revelations about her supposedly inspirational life story. But that's what you get when you choose a candidate based on personal media narrative - especially one as flimsly as this - rather than actual qualifications.

Mark Schauer is no great prize either. He served one term in Congress before being turned out in the 2010 Red Wave election, but he was there long enough to vote for Obama's massive "stimulus" boondoggle and, of course, ObamaCare. He now spends his time engaging in every conventional Democrat pander of the moment, including demands that the minimum wage be raised and lots of blather about the "middle class" and so forth. And now he's proving that he knows the current Democrat playbooks very well, which is why he has selected the latest so-called victim of the "war on women" on the apparent belief that voters want to put the fortunes of their states in the hands of people whose main claim to fame is having talked publicly about their own sexual organs.

Fair Housing for LGBT People Rejected in Louisiana

Under current law, Louisiana protects the ability "to compete for available housing on an open, fair, and equitable basis, regardless of race, color, religion, [and] sex." House Bill 804, introduced by Representative Jared Brossett of New Orleans, would have added to the list protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status.
PFAW

Judge Strikes Michigan’s Ban on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

A federal judge ruled today that Michigan’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional, the latest in a string of state marriage equality victories.

The Associated Press reports:

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman announced his ruling after a rare two-week trial that mostly focused on the impact of same-sex parenting on children.

There was no indication that the judge was suspending his decision. Attorney General Bill Schuette said he was immediately filing a request with a federal appeals court to suspend Friedman's decision and prevent same-sex couples from immediately marrying. The decision was released shortly after 5 p.m., when most county clerk offices in Michigan were closed.


PFAW Foundation

Young People Are Leading the Way on Marriage and Family Equality

18- to 29-year-olds are leading the way overall (69 percent) and among Democrats (77 percent) and Republicans (61 percent). It's in the Republican Party where the generation gap is widest, with 30- to 49-year-olds 18 points behind at 43 percent, 50- to 64-year-olds 31 points behind at 30 percent, and those 65 and older 39 points behind at 22 percent.
PFAW

Bill Johnson: Marriage Equality Leads To 'Chaos And Dysfunction'

Reacting to the legal challenge of Michigan's marriage equality ban, American Decency Association head Bill Johnson last week told the ABC affiliate WZZM that there will be divine repercussions for legalizing same-sex marriage and blamed the "mainstream media" for its "relentless" promotion of "this alternative lifestyle."

He added: "I believe that as we turn our back upon God and upon his standard, it opens this culture, it opens our families, it opens each of us as individuals to increasing lawlessness, chaos and dysfunction."

The ADA also said that gay "special rights" will lead to "despotism" and the end of freedom:

How things have changed since President Reagan so eloquently spoke of that first constitutionally guaranteed right – our religious liberty. What do we now see from our current president, his administration, and imperious judges? A commanded worship at the altar of political correctness. A mandated belief in special “rights” for homosexuals that supersedes religious liberty. A stripping away of freedom “to speak and act” on our beliefs and “apply moral teaching to public questions.”

...

Like dominoes falling, each day we see another example of lawlessness and despotism kicking at the legs of liberty.

AFA Michigan Warns LGBT Nondiscrimination Ordinance 'Threatens' Women

Residents of Bay County, Michigan, are receiving robocalls from the state chapter of the American Family Association urging them to reject a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance that the group claims “threatens religious freedom and women’s privacy rights by giving special protections to individuals involved in homosexual behavior or cross-dressing.”

The Bay City Times has posted a recording of the robocall, in which AFA Michigan president Gary Glenn calls the LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance a “discriminatory law.”

The ordinance would prohibit [pdf] the county government from discriminating on the basis of “race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, marital status, physical or mental limitation, familial status, sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression.” It would not apply to private businesses, although Glenn has nevertheless fretted that it would require a Christian bookstore to “hire a man who comes to work wearing a dress.”

A public hearing on the ordinance is being held this afternoon. If it passes, Bay County will become the first in Michigan to adopt such an ordinance.

While the GOP Fiddles, Judicial Emergencies Mount

A second emergency has been declared in Michigan, where four qualified nominees should have been confirmed last year.
PFAW

Dave Agema Is Fighting Gay Rights To Save America From Destruction

In an appearance last month on a conservative talk radio show, embattled RNC Committeeman Dave Agema defended the anti-gay comments that caused prominent Republicans to call for his resignation.

Agema insisted that his anti-gay stance has nothing to do with animus towards gay people, he just believes that gay rights will doom America.

The former Michigan state legislator said on The Renegade River Show that gay rights weaken the family “and when you start destroying the family unit in a nation, the nation starts to crumble from within.”

“Look at the Greek empire, look at the Roman empire,” Agema continued. “Basically, I am trying to protect America.”

He also maintained that schools are “teaching the homosexual lifestyle, how to be a homosexual in some sort of class that they’re teaching that we’re paying for,” and argued that gay marriage had major repercussions in Denmark, Netherlands and Switzerland (a country that has not legalized gay marriage).

Fischer: Dave Agema Is Being Attacked For Telling The Truth ... Just Like Jesus

Pressure is growing on Republican National Committee member Dave Agema to resign because of his long history of making outrageous anti-gay and anti-Muslim statements, with both RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Michigan GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak calling for him to step down.

But Agema does have one stalwart defender: Bryan Fischer, which is no surprise since Fischer likewise has a long history of making outrageously bigoted anti-gay and anti-Muslim statements. Today, Fischer dedicated a segment of his radio program to declaring that Agema is one of his heroes who, just like Jesus, is being targeted simply for telling the truth.

"There is only one test now to determine whether someone is a genuine conservative or not," Fischer said, "and that test is whether they support, embrace the homosexual agenda or whether they will criticize the normalization of homosexuality":

RNC Committeeman David Agema Loses Lawsuit Against PFAW, CAIR

You may remember Kamal Saleem, the phony ex-terrorist and Religious Right all-star who claimed that President Obama’s babysitter was setting up a shadow Islamic government and that Roe v. Wade imposes Sharia law.

Back in 2012, Saleem was scheduled to address a forum at a Michigan public school about the supposed dangers of Muslims in the U.S., prompting People For the American Way and the Council on American Islamic Relations to send a joint letter to the school asking them not to provide a platform for someone promoting misinformation and intolerance.

The school cancelled the event due to safety concerns after independently discovering that Saleem’s supporters bragged that he is a target of terrorist threats.

The hosts of the event — Republican National Committeeman and former state lawmaker David Agema, a local county commissioner, and a chapter leader of the anti-Muslim group ACT! for America — sued the school, the city and other city officials for a variety of claims, as well as PFAW and CAIR for the tort of interfering with a contract.

Agema is notorious for making bigoted comments against Muslims and gay people.

Right Wing Watch, a project of PFAW, was also mentioned in the lawsuit [PDF], which says the blog “criticizes and disparages conservative politics and Christian–Judeo values.”

The organizers were represented by Thomas More Law Center, a far-right legal group which counts Michele Bachmann and Allen West as board members, and its attorney Erin Mersino.

Today, a federal judge dismissed their lawsuit, noting that the plaintiffs “fail to state a constitutional deprivation” and base their lawsuit on “mere conclusory statements.”

Judge Janet Neff, a Bush appointee, correctly found that PFAW and CAIR were within their First Amendment rights to send a letter to the school: “The Court agrees that the petition from Defendants CAIR-MI, [Dawud] Walid, PFAW and [PFAW president Michael] Keegan to the school superintendent constitutes an attempt to influence governmental action, a petition that is protected by the First Amendment.”

As we’ve noted before, the Thomas More Law Center doesn’t exactly have the best track record:

The anti-gay and anti- Muslim group started by Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan is best known for its legal defeats, including its failed challenge to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; unsuccessful lawsuit against Planned Parenthood to “require it to declare a link between abortion and breast cancer;” and failed defense of the Dover, Pennsylvania school district where they argued “that federal law recommended that students learn alternatives to evolution such as the teaching of intelligent design.” After the disastrous Dover decision, Rick Santorum defected from the group’s Citizens Advisory Board, even though he stars in an ad for the Law Center, because of what he called their “huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did.”

Agema and Perkins Agree: Homosexuality Is Destructive Like Alcoholism, Leads to Drug Abuse and Early Death

Tony Perkins hosted embattled Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema yesterday on Washington Watch to defend his anti-gay Facebook posts that cited, among others, Holocaust denier Frank Joseph and Paul Cameron, an extremist and activist who poses as a researcher.

Agema told Perkins that the church should help gays and lesbians “get out of” their “lifestyle,” and tell them “about all the diseases you get, how it gets you into drugs, gets you into all these other things that you don’t want to be in.”

He said gay people should be treated no differently than alcoholics: “if you saw your friend for example dying of alcoholism would you just stand quietly by and watch it happen? Or would you speak up and say hey I want to help you.”

Agema lamented that wealthy and powerful gay activists are suppressing the facts and making the truth-tellers “shut up,” to which Perkins agreed and added that homosexuality is “personally destructive and harmful to the society as well.”

Agema: There’s definitely hate, they call you every name in the book. What I’d like to have the homosexual community know is I don’t hate them, as a matter of fact when Jesus caught the woman in the act of adultery when they brought her to him he said I don’t condemn you but go and sin don’t more. That ought to be the church’s goal here. We ought to be saying to these people: hey, we don’t agree with your lifestyle and we’ll help you get out of it, but we want you to know the facts of what’s going to happen to you if you stay in this lifestyle.

Study after study after study talks about all the diseases you get, how it gets you into drugs, gets you into all these other things that you don’t want to be in. So if you really love someone, if you really were concerned about someone, if you saw your friend for example dying of alcoholism would you just stand quietly by and watch it happen? Or would you speak up and say hey I want to help you. That’s what we should be doing. But the problem is the homosexual community is very organized, they got a lot of money behind them, as a matter of fact the average homosexual makes more than the average person does, has better education and they are very good at shutting anybody down and embarrassing him so they will shut up. So when this happened to me this time just like when it happened to me before I thought, I’m not going to keep quiet on them. It’s starting to backfire on them.

Perkins: I could not agree with you more. I think probably the most profound display of hate would be silence in the face of people making choices that are personally destructive and harmful to the society as well. I want to thank you for standing up because you are absolutely right, a lot of people have self-censored themselves because of the intimidation, they’ve simply backed away and said I don’t want people saying that stuff about me because that’s not who I am, and we’re not haters.

The Republican leader argued that marriage equality and LGBT-inclusive curriculum in school may eventually turn kids gay and make parents and churches victims of hate crime laws. He called on schools to teach kids that gay people “live twenty years less than the average person” and tell gay students about “all the diseases you’re going to contract.”

Perkins also told Agema that he agreed with his Facebook post and is only in trouble for “presenting the truth.”

Agema: I think what the people have to know is if this passes, what will happen is it is just a progression of events that will occur. First of all, what will happen to your school kids when they are in school, it’s already being taught in a lot of places that it is an accepted lifestyle. Then the next thing that will occur is your kids will come home and say I think this is a good thing and I think I want to be one, and if you as a parent stand up and say this is against my moral beliefs and my biblical beliefs, then the next thing you’re going to get into is hate crimes because you’re speaking against something that’s been sanctioned by the state. If you look at Denmark and others then the state also tells the churches you have to marry homosexuals and if you don’t what may happen in the United States is you might lose your tax exempt status.

So this all blew up and so I made a web page here listing several other studies that show the harmful effects of the homosexual lifestyle. Just imagine this, if our kids are in school instead of being told that this is an acceptable and OK lifestyle we are actually briefed and taught the ramifications of this lifestyle, that you’re going to live twenty years less than the average person, you are going to die younger and here’s all the diseases you’re going to contract, there’d be a totally different philosophy here instead of basically telling the kids that this is good. So I think we got to go into this with our eyes wide open and what the 2 or 3 percent of homosexuals what they are doing in the United States today is trying to get the courts to do what they can’t get the individual states to do, and that’s dictate that all states will accept homosexual marriage.

Perkins: I’m joined by Dave Agema; he is the Republican National Committeeman from the state of Michigan. We’re talking about a post that he put on his Facebook page citing facts, statistics regarding the homosexual lifestyle during the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage. What is troubling to me is that your post has been called a form of hate but simply what you are doing is having a conversation presenting the truth. These are documented facts. I looked at what you put up there and some of it is the same information we have on our website, some of it comes from the CDC, comes from other medical sources, it’s all footnoted, there’s nothing hate in here it is just talking about the facts. This is troubling that you can’t even have a conversation about what’s in the best interest of our society without being a bigot or a hater.

Agema: That’s exactly how they get you to shut up.

Election Protection: Our Broken Voting System and How to Repair It

“Although the time in our history has passed when certain Americans were excluded by force of law from electoral participation, endemic yet solvable problems continue to plague our system of elections and prevent too many eligible voters from fully participating in our democracy.”
PFAW Foundation
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