Metro Weekly

Michigan Republicans want to ban LGBTQ Pride flags on state buildings

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said her "veto pen is ready" if the legislation passes

State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis — Photo: Michigan House of Representatives

Michigan’s governor says her “veto pen is ready” if a Republican ban on LGBTQ Pride flags passes the state legislature.

Introduced in the Michigan House last week, the bill from Republican state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis would prevent any flag other than the state flag, governor’s flag, or U.S. flag from being flown on state government buildings.

Afendoulis’ bill was a response to Whitmer publicly supporting the flying of a Pride flag on a government building during Pride month in June, Michigan Live reports.

“We shouldn’t be playing identity politics with the people’s property,” Afendoulis said in a statement. “It isn’t right.”

Republicans currently hold both chambers of the Michigan Legislature, and Afendoulis’ bill has been referred to the House Government Operations Committee.

Democratic State Sen. Jeremy Moss, who is gay, said the bill is another microagression against the LGBTQ community, and questioned how extensive the limits on Pride flags would ultimately be.

“Where does this type of lunacy stop?” he said. “It’s the governor’s choice to present the values coming out of her office. I find it ridiculous that we’re having this conversation 26 days after the flags were taken down.”

Moss added: “Why can’t we, as an LGBT community, speak about pride that we have for who we are?”

In a statement, Democratic state Rep. John Hoadley said that Afendoulis’ hate wouldn’t stop the fight for equality.

“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,” Hoadley said. “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.”

Erin Knott, executive director of Equality Michigan, slammed the bill in a statement, and countered Afendoulis’ claim that flying the Pride flag was “identity politics.”

“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,” Knott said. “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.”

Gov. Whitmer has already said she will veto the legislation, should it ultimately end up on her desk.

Of note is that, should Republicans ultimately pass Afendoulis’ bill, the legislature would not be able to override Whitmer’s veto.

Michigan is one of 36 states who require a two-thirds majority to override a governor’s veto — and Democrats have already signaled their opposition to the ban on Pride flags.

Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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