LANSING — Following the historic flying of the Pride flag from the George W. Romney building last month, a Republican representative introduced legislation yesterday to ban the flying of any but the U.S., Michigan and governor’s flags from state buildings. The Pride flag display in June represented an important milestone in the fight for equality — the first time in the celebration’s 50 year history that the state openly showed its support.
“It is amazing that in 2019 there are still people who see the fight for equality as somehow antithetical to their own experiences or freedoms,” said state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). “The good news is that while their opposition may speak to how far there still is to go, they are an increasingly smaller minority of Michiganders. Hate and discrimination may still have a foothold, but it is temporary; whether or not the Pride flag can be flown on a government building won’t stop the overwhelming majority of us who are fighting on the side of progress. The right for LGBTQ community members to love who they want without fear or discrimination isn’t up for debate anymore.”
The Republican bill sponsor stated that to fly flags like the Pride one was to “play identity politics” and that it “isn’t right.” The representative, serving in her first term, recently announced her intention to run for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional seat, in a hotly-contested primary where candidates are jockeying to prove themselves conservative enough to dominate the now-crowded field.
“In an era where bigotry and hatred are once again being legitimized, members of the LGBTQ community continue to be the targets of acts of violence,” said Erin Knott, Executive Director of Equality Michigan. “People are being seriously injured or killed because of who they are and who they love. Flying the Pride flag in June communicated a clear and simple message about our right to exist and to live safely in communities across Michigan. That isn’t identity politics — that is exactly what a government is supposed to do.”
“Change is often slow and incremental, which is why every gain, no matter how seemingly small, is critical in the march forward,” said state Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia). “That’s why the governor’s show of support in the fight for equality was so important. The Pride flag, like the celebration of the month in June, is about the acknowledgement of another person’s humanity, their right to love whom they choose, and the fight to remove the barriers — societal, institutional or otherwise — that prevent someone from being themselves. I genuinely can’t fathom how anyone could be opposed to that.”