Tag Archives: Michigan

Hero of the Week Award: July 5, Tim Hardaway

5 Jul
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

This week it is a real pleasure to celebrate a man who has clearly demonstrated the ability to change. Former NBA star, Tim Hardaway was infamous for his homophobia. When recently retired player John Amaechi came out in 2007, Hardaway famously noted in an interview “I hate gay people.” When asked for clarification, he seemed to use the label “homophobic” proudly.  At that point, he certainly would have earned Bigot of the Week Award.  What an absolute delight to celebrate someone who demonstrates bell hooks’ transformative experience.

The NBA did the right thing and sanctioned Hardaway, imposing financial penalties and banning him from the NBA All-Star weekend. This gave him space to consider his words and actions. Not long after, he indicated that he wanted to change his ways, telling a reporter, “I’m going to do whatever I can to correct it.”

He has lived up to that promise. Earlier this year, when Jason Collins became the first active NBA player to come out, Hardaway was among his most vocal supporters. This week, Equal Marriage Florida opened its petition to create marriage equality in the Sunshine State. For the very public kickoff of the campaign, they found a willing celebrity to be the first signer of the petition — Tim Hardaway.

Many people have ugly beliefs, say hateful things, take hurtful actions. They should be called out for their behavior. Too seldom do we see even a real apology. Even rarer is someone who truly demonstrates that they have learned from their mistakes and want to be and do better and do the necessary repair work. Thank you, Tim Hardaway, for showing that our strongest allies can be forged from the lessons learned by our former opponents.  There is a lesson for us all here.  For those that commit trespass, we must try our best to create a space for people to make mistakes, be accountable, and allow for repair work.  If I, or our culture, simply dismisses a fellow human being as just a homophobe, or just a racist, we lose the opportunity for richer deeper conversations to be had and we also lose the opportunity for targeted, or marginalized people to gain allies.

It’s a delight to have two honorable mentions this week. First, a big thank you to the Department of Homeland Security. (I never thought I’d write that!) In one of the first executive branch actions since the overturn of DOMA Section 3, DHS began issuing green cards to legally married same-sex couples. This will end decades of discrimination and estrangement and banishes one of the most visibly cruel aspects of DOMA.

Honorable mention also goes to April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a couple in Michigan who have been working to overturn that state’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples. They recently expanded their case to take on the Wolverine State’s marriage ban. Judge Bernard Friedman put a stay on the case in March, awaiting the Supreme Court’s DOMA and Prop 8 decisions. Citing the DOMA verdict, Friedman lifted his stay, noting that the language of the decision “has provided the requisite precedential fodder for both parties to this litigation.” It’s wonderful to see so many positive results emerge from that one decision so quickly. Thank you, April and Jayne, for your courage, and best of luck on your journey to end discrimination.

Bigot of the Week Award: December 14, Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature

14 Dec
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Well fetch my smelling salts. Petulant Republicans in Michigan rammed through anti-union legislation in their lame duck session. Even though they will maintain their slim majority in January, supporters of the bill were defeated in November, giving it no chance to pass in the new session. Desperate to gut union power, the soon-to-be-gone legislators colluded with Gov. Rick Snyder to pass the so-called “Right to Work” bill, marking another huge blow to workers.

The bill is modeled on a plan put forth by the Koch brothers, which tells us all we really need to know. Speaking in support of Michigan unions, President Obama wisely called it a “right to work for less” bill. Before the election, Gov. Snyder had maintained that the draft legislation went too far, saying he would not support it. He suddenly changed his tune, championing the odious measure and signing it in record time.

Legislators maintained that the bill was necessary to keep unions from abusing their power in the public sector. Their hypocrisy is revealed in every step of their actions, however. It includes restrictions on private sector unions. It exempts two large public sector unions, fire fighters and police. Is it a coincidence that both of these groups are more likely than other union members to support Republicans? These actions were clearly nothing more than an aggressive political move.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to a regular recipient of the BWA, Justice Antonin Scalia (Thank you to LGBT ally Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this).  As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear two marriage equality cases, Scalia reiterated his odious opposition to equality. Asked by a law student about his regular comparisons of homosexuality to bestiality, Scalia repeated and emphasized them. Curiously, the media — who often seem to enjoy his theatrical antics from the bench — are now pondering his viciousness, noting his nasty, behind the times irrelevance.

REMINDER: TSM is still accepting Bigot of the Year nominations. We’ll spend the last week of 2012 recognizing the most horrific and hypocritical behavior of the year. Please submit your suggestions by December 23 for full consideration and stay tuned for the winners!

A Bigot Broken: Andrew Shirvell’s Just Desserts

18 Aug

Big Ole Closet Queen

Disgraced former Michigan assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell had his day in court at last…and really wishes he hadn’t. Long-time TSM readers may remember this odious little man. He received one of our earliest Bigot of the Week Awards for his behavior in the fall of 2010. When Chris Armstrong became the first openly gay student body president at the University of Michigan, Shirvell’s bigot alarm started a-ringin’. He mounted a one-man campaign of abuse, posting dozens of obscenity-laden attacks on Armstrong. Shirvell maintained that Armstrong’s election was the result of the “cult of homosexuality” and accused the student of “nazi-like” behavior. (Ironically, the creepy attorney created a whole blog devoted to Armstrong…)

To Armstrong’s credit, he simply stood his ground and continued his studies and leadership. The outcry resulted in Shirvell’s suspension and eventual firing. When the behavior continued, Armstrong filed a harassment lawsuit. He sued for a reasonable $25,000 and offered to withdraw the suit in exchange for a public apology. Shirvell refused.

In the intervening months, Armstrong and his family created a scholarship fund for students who have been victimized by bullying. Shirvell continued to rant about the homosexual agenda, published more lies about Armstrong, and attempted a failed countersuit. This week it all came to a close when a jury awarded Armstrong an impressive $4.5 Million. One has to wonder what kind of obsession or guilt got Shirvell’s crazy train started. Once it was rolling, however, it just kept speeding down the tracks. Now it’s plunged off a cliff and Shirvell is the victim of a catastrophe entirely of his own making. It seems to me that it is painfully obvious that Shirvell is gay and is obsessed with Armstrong. Who knows how much longer that closet will be able to contain Shirvell.  Regardless of whether or not he busts out of the closet, his pathology makes him pathetic.

Lisa Brown: Censorship and Misogyny in Michigan

18 Jun

Kudos to Lisa Brown

Thank you to my friend Voice of the Trailer (VOT) for inspiring me to write this article. Apparently, Republican men  are determined to rule women’s vaginas. West Bloomfield Representative Lisa Brown was banned from speaking on the Michigan House floor Thursday after she referred to her female anatomy the day before. She used the word “vagina” when voicing her opinion against a bill restricting abortions. She said the bill would violate her Jewish religious beliefs:

I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs, why are you asking me to adopt yours? And finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina but no means no.

As a result of Rep. Brown being censored, at least nine female legislators are going to join playwright Even Ensler Monday night for a reading of her famous 1996 play, The Vagina Monologues, on the Capitol steps.

Ensler commented, ”

Censoring a woman for saying a word that is a body part that 51 percent of their constituents have is a repression that we have not and should not ever witness in this country.

Kudos to Brown for writing an article for the Detroit News where she explains her …”outrage that this legislative body wants to dictate not only what women can do, but also what we can say. Although male lawmakers have no problem passing laws about my vagina … when I dared mention its name, they became outraged.”  How wonderful to see a strong woman who does not buy into right wing oppression and is able to speak truth to power!

Michigan Endorses Bullying: LGBT Youth Targeted by Religious Groups

7 Nov

Shame on Michigan

Thanks to my dear friend and fierce LGBT ally, Jen Lockett, for inspiring this post.  Michigan has managed to completely turn my stomach in disgust.  The Republican-controlled Senate in Michigan managed to pass a bill that now legalizes bullying of LGBT youth if you claim to be bullying for Jesus.  Yes, it is now okay to torment and torture LGBT kids in the name of religion.  I should take this time to point the audience to a Message From God.

What is worse is that the new law protects both teachers and students to bully LGBT youth.  The mortifying irony is that they have co-opted language and called this the Matt’s Safe School Law. In 2002, Matt Epling committed suicide due to being bullied. Thank goodness for Senator Gretchen Whitmer for calling out this atrocious and bigoted behavior:

You may be able to pat yourselves on the back today and say that you did something…But in actuality you are explicitly outlining how to get away with bullying.

While I’m grateful for the efforts of Senator Whitmer, the sad truth is that now those who truly believe homosexuality is wrong are free to torment classmates consequence-free. Shame on Republican Sen. Rick Jones for sponsoring this bill!

Protect the Fetus: Reject the Mother and Baby

3 May

I'm Pro-Life: Anti Baby

I grow ever weary of anti-choice groups as they vilify Planned Parenthood and show  up to abortion clinics harassing both the young women and the doctors, allegedly to “protect” the fetus.  What is more disturbing is the complete lack of support available to marginalized mothers who do have babies.

Last week, Republican Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan signed a law that allows the state to functionally dissolve local governments.  The immediate implications of this law are felt by teenage girls that wanted to stay in school while raising the babies that conservatives have been pressuring them not to abort. Rachel Maddow ran footage of police shoving, cuffing and pushing around teenage girls, while the sirens wailed over the girls’ shouts and cries.  Again, we see how marginalized populations are: damned if they do and damned if they don’t, issues not faced by white wealthy conservatives, thus the Great Class Divide.  Click here to see the article and the very disturbing video.  I do believe it is time to recall Snyder!

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