After leaving Indiana, I headed to Kalamazoo, Michigan. This is a great city with a great name. There is much ado in Kalamazoo. The city recently passed a local ordinance outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The state of Michigan does not protect LGBT folks from workplace or housing discrimination, but a few cities do have local ordinances.
After Kalamazoo passed their ordinance, a group of anti-gay folks created an organization called, Kalamazoo Citizens Voting No to Special Rights Discrimination (yes, that is actually the organization’s official name). This group is working to repeal the new law banning discrimination. They have collected enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot this November.
In response to the anti-gay campaign, a new organization, One Kalamazoo, has stepped up to protect the law. I was able to interview a few of the folks involved in the fight. First up, I met with Thomas Seiler of the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center. He told me about some of the work the resource center does in the area. Next, I interviewed Terry Kuseske, a longtime gay activist and candidate for Kalamazoo City Commission. We talked about the work that lead up to the passage of the non-discrimination ordinance.
Then I spoke with Jon Hoadley, the Campaign Manager for One Kalamazoo. We went over the ways in which our side will win this war. (I have a thing for alliteration.) Next, I met with Adam Taylor, GLBT activist, campaign manager, media specialist, and Director of Project Light; an organization he founded to help combat the epidemic of queer youth suicide. Adam and I had a great conversation about the way homophobia puts youth at risk.
Then I met with Amy Hunter, Director of Operations for One Kalamazoo. She told me about the protections afforded in the new law and what it is like to be transgender in Michigan. Last, but not least, I spoke with Steve Gerike about gay life in Kalamazoo. Special thanks to Steve for inviting me to the city many months ago when he first learned of Driving Equality.
Kalamazoo is one of the places we need to be turning our energy to this year. Our rights are on the ballot here this November. We aren’t even talking about marriage rights, but very basic civil rights like employment and housing. Let’s try to help out Kalamazoo. Check out OneKalamazoo.com.
Again, I’m trying to post a video clip of the interview, but my computer is not feeling it. You can help out the Driving Equality project by donating to the New Computer Fund. I need to raise $1700 more to purchase the computer. This computer will be used to edit the final documentary.