Candidate Survey: Between the Lines

Greetings, friends!

Today has been a busy day. I drove about an hour up to Mount Pleasant so that I could do a “Meet the Candidates” interview with David Nicholas at CMU Public Broadcasting. This is my first time running for any kind of public office, and I have to confess that I was a bit nervous. I think I did pretty well, though I wish I had spoken a bit more clearly. When I find that the interview has been uploaded to the internet I shall make a post linking to the video so that you can watch it from here.

The survey I’m posting now is one that I had just received today, and it couldn’t be more timely. It comes from Between the Lines, a weekly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) publication. I was kind of disappointed that it follows the “support / don’t support / don’t know” pattern, but it did provide room for additional comments at the end, so I wrote them a letter that I attached to the survey. I also wrote some comments in the margins of the survey. For further information, you can visit the previously linked website or their Voter Guide.

The survey is timely because the legislature is debating about adding “gender and sexual orientation” to Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which says, in part, that an employer is not able to:

Fail or refuse to hire or recruit, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against an individual with respect to employment, compensation, or a term, condition, or privilege of employment, because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status.

The legislature has concerns about religious liberty with regard to adding the “gender and sexual orientation” language to the act, but I think in the final analysis, businesses that act in the public domain should be equally bound to anti-discrimination laws. I do respect the many religious beliefs of the people of Michigan, and I believe that they have the right, as delineated in the First Amendment, to practice their religion freely and openly. However, religious liberty has to be balanced with the liberties of others in the public domain, without one getting preference over another. The owners of a business are able to practice their religion, but if they’re running a business that operates in the public domain (for instance, attached to public roads and making use of public resources), they must be held accountable to the same laws everyone else is held accountable to. That’s a fair and equitable situation in a pluralistic democracy such as ours.

It’s important to note that we all, everyday, accept limits on our liberties. We do this so that we can live in a country with over 350 million people, all of whom have different views, beliefs, and goals. Remember the old saying, “Your freedom to swing your fists ends where my nose begins.” It’s a somewhat clumsy adage, but I think it adequately describes this situation.

With that said, I’d like to post the survey, as well as my letter.

BTL_Survey0001BTL_Survey0002BTL_Survey0003BTL_Survey0004If you have questions or comments, please feel free to drop a comment on this blog, or write me at jderke2014@gmail.com. I welcome comments and debate, as long as it is civil and productive.

Thank you for reading!

P.S. If you’re interested in some resources to compliment this post, here is a .pdf copy of Judge Friedman’s ruling on the same-sex marriage ban, as well as some scientific resources about gay conversion therapy and the abilities of gay and lesbian parents.

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