Moss on LGBTQ Pride Month: ‘I’m begging for respect in the chamber’

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Michigan Pride | Angela Demas

For the sixth time as a state lawmaker, state Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) on Wednesday urged his colleagues in the Senate to pass a resolution recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month.

And for the sixth time, both chambers of the GOP-controlled Legislature opted out of voting on such measures.

“I’m begging for respect in the chamber here,” Moss said. He reminded lawmakers that Thursday’s session is the last chance to take up Senate Resolution 123 before session goes on break until July.

Neither SR 123 nor its House equivalent, House Resolution 281, were brought up for votes on Thursday. Moss noted on Twitter that resolutions to declare July 2020 as Michigan Beer Month (SR 131 and HR 289) passed both chambers easily.

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A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, declared June Pride Month is Michigan.

In his speech during session, Moss said the importance of recognizing Pride Month was once again driven home to him when he overheard hateful, derogatory language toward LGBTQ people near his home Sunday and felt like he couldn’t act without endangering himself as a gay man.

“If we confront hateful language, we do face the very real risk of being victims of hateful actions,” Moss said. “… This is a learned behavior, a learned behavior that this Senate refuses to take a stand on. I wasn’t able to confront this man, but I will use this platform to confront this institution.”

All 16 of the Senate resolution’s co-sponsors are Democrats.

As state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) pointed out in her own remarks, Moss has now introduced such a resolution six years in a row — four times as a state representative, and twice as a state senator. Several other Democrats also voiced their support for the resolution.

“Rejecting these resolutions is not just the absence of recognition; it is an intentional act of injustice. We have one more session day this month to declare June 2020 as LGBTQ Pride Month. There’s no way to retroactively do it after tomorrow,” Moss said.

Moss also shared a personal account of the first time he experienced homophobia in the state Legislature. As a legislative staffer in 2011, he listened as a Republican House member gave a long floor speech deriding the Michigan Civil Service Commission’s decision to grant same-sex partner benefits to state employees.

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That speech was filled with homophobic remarks, and Moss said it stayed with him.

“I still carry that moment with me, how damaging it was to our community for the Michigan Legislature to send that message,” Moss said Wednesday. “I vowed then and there to make sure that our community had a voice in this institution, and interestingly enough here I am now serving with that Republican House member in this body today.”

He declined to say who the legislator was.

According to an April 14, 2011, Gongwer story, Shirkey spoke against same-sex partner benefits in a House floor speech.

“Strong family units must be one of the bedrocks on which we build if we are to secure our state’s future,” Shirkey said, per Gongwer. “Actions such as the recent Civil Service Commission only continue to hijack our children’s future in the name of tolerance.”