In 1997, an act of discrimination occurred in Ypsilanti when a local print shop returned a print job it had already accepted from an LGBT EMU group, raffle tickets for a ‘Halt the Hate’ rally. The students went to city hall to investigate how this fit in with our local non-discrimination ordinance. Lo and Behold, we did not have one at all!
What followed were months of ‘hearings’ with the newly formed Human Rights Commission, who eventually ruled that no discrimination had taken place. Thankfully, our city council unanimously overruled that mistake, and passed an inclusive non-discrimination ordinance later that year. Ypsilanti is one of the first cities in the state (ahead of Ann Arbor) to include protection based on Gender Identity.
By then, political committees were formed on each side of the issue, and the anti-gay committee successfully submitted enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. I was unemployed and highly vocal, and soon found myself as one of the campaign co-chairs along with Paul Heaton. Our 100% volunteer driven campaign should have lost, based on what was happening around the country in similar campaigns. Instead, we won by the largest margin (12 points) since Anita Bryant had taken her hate message to the country.
In 2002, the anti gay groups came back to our city. This time they tried to amend our city charter to exclude any protection for gay, lesbian, or bisexual people (actual language). This time, I was privileged to co-chair the campaign with Lisa Zuber, who had been the volunteer coordinator for the 1998 campaign. We won by an amazing 63-37%!!!!!
Both campaigns were considered textbook examples of how to run a LGBT campaign and are in fact used in a textbook by Amy Stone, mentioned on the sidebar here.
Serving as Campaign Co-Chair for the “Keep Ypsi Rolling” campaign to maintain buses and public transportation for Ypsilanti, I successfully helped pass a millage, in an anti-tax environment, to keep public transportation in place. Our city has a significant population who relies on buses; this millage is and was key
As Campaign Manager for LGBT candidate for Ypsilanti mayor, Amanda Edmonds, I helped achieve a landslide, 64% victory for my candidate.
I also led the Save Ypsi Yes campaign for a city income tax.