ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Responds to Attempts to Scapegoat Group for Questioning Ballot Strategy

ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss today issued the following statement in response to reports that the ACLU of Michigan is not supporting a ballot initiative to update the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

“Since its founding, the ACLU of Michigan has always been and will always be committed to championing equality for our partners in the LGBT community. This commitment is reflected in the tens of thousands of hours we’ve devoted to a wide range of legal, legislative and ballot measures that guarantee equal rights to the LGBT community and that safeguard the community from violence and discrimination.

“Recently, some have resorted to public attacks to try to tarnish our long history of struggle for LGBT equality. 

“The ACLU will not be scapegoated because proponents of a ballot initiative fail to garner the necessary support to win.

“We find such divisiveness unnecessary, unproductive and unfortunate. Their efforts would be better spent in explaining to Michiganders why the time is now for full LGBT equality. Given how much work remains for those of us who care deeply about the interests and images of Michigan’s LGBT community, we refuse to be drawn into baseless and personal attacks. Instead, the ACLU of Michigan will remain firmly focused on the critical work of making positive change for LGBT Michiganders.

“We have neither embraced nor rejected any individual tactics. We have raised important questions about the messaging strategies, the cost and the collaboration that directly impact the potential of an initiative to be successful.  We have offered to help provide funds to find answers to some of these questions. The stakes for the LGBT community are too high for any group or individual to act without the full support of the LGBT community and its allies.

“Not long ago, leaders of the transgender community echoed these concerns in an open letter pointing out that, since their communities have the most to lose, they should be an integral part of the decision-making process.

“The ACLU of Michigan believes that any strategies undertaken in the name of the LGBT community must be led by the LGBT community and include as broad support as possible. We are clear that, should these efforts prove unsuccessful, it is the LGBT community that would pay the steepest price.

“The circumstances facing the LGBT community are far too dire and we regret that the ACLU is being set up for blame in case this effort fails.  Our history of civil rights is replete with instances where reasonable minds disagree on strategy; this is not a question of ‘moderation.’ Rather, it is a question of putting in the hard work to make sure that a fight can be won.   Our only concern is making certain that our LGBT partners enjoy the equal rights and privileges that they have been denied for far too long.” 

The ACLU will not be scapegoated because proponents of a ballot initiative fail to garner the necessary support to win.