Truth and Meaning: Agenda Alert

We all face challenges in life. Taking classes, working at jobs, paying taxes, and a host of other responsibilities consume our time — time we might prefer to spend with loved ones and good friends. We care about our city, its parks and schools. We care about our neighbors and the well being of all in our community.

You might not want to hear about one more challenge, especially if you feel it does not impact you directly. But as Midlanders, as Michiganders, as Americans, whatever our religious beliefs, we must consider all people because our morals tell us to help the underprivileged and to stand against oppressors.
In recent weeks, you may have heard and read about a number of news stories relating to gay and transgender people in Midland. If you do not know any gay people, or understand the nature of being a transgender person, you might have set these stories aside. Hearing people that you perhaps respect speak out, you may have trusted their judgment based on their authority or committed resolve.
The first realization you should face, however, is that you do know gay people. You might not know who they are — neighbors, co-workers, store owners, or members of your church — but you know them. And the time to attend to these people in your life has arrived.
As concerned citizens, the plight of your gay and transgender friends and neighbors should matter because people with an insidious agenda live among us. These people are obsessed with gay and transgender people, and the perception that their presence constitutes a danger. Sadly, a leader of these fanatics now represents Midland in the Michigan State House of Representatives. Gary Glenn’s long-time compulsive hatred of gay and transgender people resurfaced in recent days via postings on his Facebook pages — pages that purport to represent the interests of his constituents.
Now, like all citizens, Representative Glenn has the right to hold opinions and we, as his constituents, deserve to hear them. At its core, our republic functions in large part because of the transparency of our elected officials and the rights of citizens to engage in conversation with their representatives. Glenn’s recent actions placed the issues of whether gays and transgender people should be protected from discrimination at the forefront of our attention. The problem, however, lies with the fact that when someone posts a comment of concern, or an opinion that dares to disagree with Representative Glenn on his Facebook pages, the comment quickly disappears and the poster is often barred from posting again. Many of his constituents also report no attempt on the part of their elected representative to respond to letters and emails.
This censorship and unresponsiveness to the concerns of his constituents grew in recent weeks. Our state faces major challenges relating to the economy, education, the environment and crumbling infrastructure. Glenn, however, spends much of his valuable time pursuing a personal war against a group only seeking fair treatment. A gay person in Michigan currently has absolutely no protection from being fired by an employer, or evicted by a landlord simply because they were born gay. Whatever your personal opinion about homosexuality, such legalized discrimination is abhorrent.
Gary Glenn has been the long-time president and voice of the Michigan chapter of the American Family Association. The AFA publishes diatribes that incite unwarranted distrust of gay and transgender people using allegations unproven by the vast majority of medical research and unsubstantiated by every major medical association. The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization committed to teaching tolerance among all people, maintains a list of extremist hate groups. The AFA shares a place on that list with notable stains on the American landscape, such as the Aryan Brotherhood, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and the Westboro Baptist Church.
If Gary Glenn, citizen, wishes to peddle his filth about people who have done nothing to harm him, that is his right. But as an elected official, one might reasonably expect more decorum and certainly more validated proof of his insinuations and accusations — claims that are rapidly turning our city into a national joke.
  • His sponsorship of House Bills 4188, 4189, and 4190, which will allow agencies to legally discriminate against qualified and loving gay and lesbian couples seeking to adopt some of Michigan’s thousands of parentless children, is unconscionable.
  • His support of businesses to discriminate against gays and transgender people based on religious beliefs, while at the same time chiding Planet Fitness for its inclusive policy that assumes the inherent worth and dignity of all people, is hypocrisy at it finest. On March 9, he clearly presumed that transgender people are dangerous when he posted that the Planet Fitness policy “threatens the safety of its female customers.”
  • His snide reaction on March 22 to the promotion of Tony Lascari at the Midland Daily News lacked the class we should expect from someone in his position. He posted, “Agenda Alert — Midland Daily News’ new news editor: political science major who ‘lives in Midland with (his) husband.’”
  • His March 24 opposition to the recommendation of the State Civil Rights Commission regarding nondiscrimination protections based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is mean-spirited and un-Christian. He posted “that local gay and gender identity rights laws are a ‘solution in search of a nonexistent problem.’”
  • And the dismissive tone of Glenn’s staff when responding to the Midland Daily News’ inquiry about his censorship of and lack of response to citizen queries (as reported on March 25) was evasive and arrogant.

This endless crusade against gay and transgender people embarrasses us. The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States guarantees many bold and important rights for the American people. Government must never establish a state religion. Citizens have the right to speak their minds. And we have the right to redress our grievances to our elected officials and be heard. Representative Glenn’s attempts to legalize religion-based discrimination, stifle public comments, and ignore the opinions of his constituents represents not simply poor judgment, but a fundamental attack on the American way of governance.

So please be alert. There are people with an agenda — an agenda aimed at destroying families and undermining our ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These people present a real public menace by threatening innocent gay and transgender adults and children and their families, and by promoting discrimination, bullying, suicide, and homelessness among people who only want to live joyful and productive lives, just like you. This agenda rejects our commitment as moral creatures to love our neighbors and to leave judgment of others to the greater power of the universe. Write to Gary Glenn and tell him that you do not share his homophobic and transphobic agenda. Hold him accountable to communicate with you and not discard your concerns without regard. Tell your representative that you believe his actions against gay and transgender people are neither loving or just, and that his pursuit of this agenda is un-American.