Thursday, November 03, 2011

Michigan- what the hell is up with you?

I just wrote a post this morning about about the Michigan Senate Republicans passing an anti-bullying bill that they had gutted and essentially made into a blueprint for bullying. It passed 26-11 with all the Democrats voting against it. It basically paves the way for those who bully the right kids (read: gay or perceived gay) to receive a get-out-of-jail-free pass with the Republican seal of approval stamped on it.

And now I am reading that the Michigan House of Representatives approved a bill, House bill 4770, in September that will strip domestic partner benefits for state employees —including staff at Michigan’s 15 public universities. Causing a big worry, according to the article,  that this will cause a "mass exodus" (brain-drain) of professors and other valuable employees if passed in the Senate where it is currently under consideration:

U-M Latin professor Sara Ahbel-Rappe said that if bill 4770 passes there will likely be a large exodus of professors who leave the university.
“It’s a total slap in the face. It tells me that I don’t deserve the same consideration” as heterosexual couples, she said. “People will leave.”
Ahbel-Rappe and six other professors authored a letter to Gov. Rick Synder asking him not to sign bill 4770 if passed by the senate. The letter calls the bill discriminatory and says it will negatively affect staff recruitment at the university.

So as a parent of 3 college students myself, one of them gay, I can tell you in no uncertain terms, University of  Michigan and any other state university in Michigan that would be affected by this bill would be immediately removed from the list of schools my kids would be considering. And we foot the bill, so yes, we have a say-so.

And I say this with a lot of certainty because when we found out our son, Michael, was gay, we happened to be right in the middle of figuring out which schools he was going to apply to for college. Once we learned Michael was gay, some schools came off that list, and others got added. And this was not just for Michael. It applied to our other children as well. We don't spend money on any organization that is discriminatory or homophobic. And we'll try damn hard not to spend money in any state that legislates which of its citizens are treated with dignity and respect and which are just plum out of luck (hello Michigan).  Not one red cent!

So what was our criteria for picking worthy universities? Well first and foremost, safety. That was nonnegotiable and I can tell you right now, this anti-bullying law the Michigan state senate Republicans just passed would have been a deal-breaker, no question about it. Secondly, good professors and teaching environment. And this discriminatory bill 4770 under consideration by the Michigan Senate and already approved by the Michigan House would also have been a deal-breaker, no question about it.  And lastly, a progressive state that treats everyone with dignity and respect, which immediately rules out Michigan because of criteria one and criteria two.

So too bad Michigan. You elect homophobes and bigots to your state government and guess what happens? You Lose.


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