The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center welcomed Michigan State Representative Adam Zemke, District Director Derek Dobies and the managing director of Equality Michigan, Emily Dievendorf, for the third installment of Meet The Movement on Monday night. The topic of discussion was marriage equality.
Over 100 students attended the event and were given the opportunity to submit questions to the three panel members.
“There were a lot of people here for classes and LBC,” said Mary Larkin, the program coordinator of the LGBT resource center. “Attendance was above average.”
“I’m glad so many people came out tonight that are not versed on LGBT issues,” said Oliver Riopelle, a junior and sociology major.
Zemke said the best thing to do is to continue hosting these conversations and events. He is also a strong supporter of LGBT rights and equality.
“I think this is the civil rights issue of the millennial generation,” Zemke said. “Equality should be equal.”
Dievendorf began the discussion on Monday night by pointing out that marriage equality is no longer a partisan issue in the state of Michigan. She made it clear that the best way to achieve marriage equality in Michigan is to let voters decide.
“56 percent of Michigan residents poll in favor of marriage equality,” Dievendorf said. “65 percent poll in favor of LGBT rights in Michigan.”
Zemke echoed Dievendorf and said “Who you love doesn’t have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ next to it.”
“We are working to put marriage equality on the ballot in 2016, but we need non-discrimination laws first,” Dievendorf said.
Dievendorf pointed out that there are not any non-discrimination laws protecting the LGBT community in Michigan and that it is perfectly legal in the state of Michigan for someone to be fired from their job because they are LGBT.
All three panel-members agreed that one of the most common misconceptions about LGBT issues is that people think these non-discrimination laws already exist and preached the importance of getting involved.
“The biggest challenge we face with young voters is apathy,” Dievendorf said. “Millennials are in favor of equality, but they think this issue is so huge and so popular that they don’t really need to get out there and vote.”
Zemke urged students to take action in supporting marriage equality.
“Call your statewide elected officials and tell them you will not vote for someone who doesn’t support LGBT rights or marriage equality,” Zemke said.
Dobies, who works for Congressman John Dingell, stated that elected officials really do take what voters say to heart.
According to Dobies, Dingell wants to move this process along.
“The Congressman is very supportive of the LGBT community,” Dobies said.
Dobies told the student audience that Dingell is sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act, which is a bill at the federal level that would totally repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Dievendorf spoke out the most vehemently about the challenges facing bisexual and transgender community.
“The stigma against the bisexual community is strong,” Dievendorf said. “They are more likely to lose their job.”
Tristan Morton, a junior and sociology major was happy that Dievendorf brought up bisexual and transgender issues.
“I got so excited when they talked about bi and transgender inequality,” Morton said. “I think that is really important to educate people about.”
“The ‘B’ and ‘T’ of LGBT are often left out,” Dievendorf said. “We are all in this together, and we cannot leave the bisexual and transgender community behind.”
Zemke, Dobies, and Dievendorf urge students visit equalitymi.org to get involved in the fight for marriage equality and other LGBT rights issues.
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