Two anniversaries of great significance in West Michigan, this weekend.
June 15, 2011
Five members of Holland City Council votes against a standard anti-discrimination law that most Michigan metro areas have. Mayor Kurt Dykstra, Todd Whiteman, Nancy DeBoer, Myron Tretheway, and Brian Burch voted instead to preserve landlords’ right to refuse housing to LGBT residents of Holland, to for employers’ right to refuse jobs to LGBT workers.
June 16, 2011
The Until Love Is Equal movement is formed, in West Michigan. A broad coalition of creatives, straight allies, members of the LGBTQ community, regular folks… this group of people from across the region have redefined grassroots organizing, from scratch.
Now we enter year two. We continue to sequence through the Ghandian steps for a movement. The second year of Until Love Is Equal, and the fight for equality in West Michigan, starts loudly, right now.
Anniversary Events / Appearances
Wallace Collective at New Holland Brewery
9:30 p.m. Friday, June 15, 2012
The music and the movement… West Michigan musicians “The Wallace Collective” are playing a gig at New Holland Brewery starting at 10:00 p.m. and going until at least 1:00 a.m. Until Love Is Equal buttons, new postcards, new apparel and more to be available at the Wallace Collective merch table, and there’s a rumor the entire band is going to wear ULIE gear for the duration of the show!
We’ve long been hopeful that New Holland Brewery – the only West Michigan craft-beer maker to not yet endorsing the goals of equality in Holland – will join us in our movement toward fairness and equality in the beautiful city of Holland, MI (USA). Sister breweries like Bells, Founders, Brewery Vivant, Harmony Brewing Co., Gilmore Collection, HopCat and more contacted ULIE and asked to be included. It’s a beautiful thing. Craft brewery staff and management are some of the best people on the face of the planet, and in our region, they employ more people and export more product than almost any other industry. New Holland Brewery has some of the most delicious beers anywhere, and we encourage you to come out for a little while or a long time on Friday night… and to tip the excellent waitstaff and bartenders at this beautiful downtown Holland establishment.
Info-table and Keynote Presentation
Waterfront Film Festival
9:30 p.m. Friday, June 15
Until Love Is Equal received an invitation to be present at Waterfront Film Festival, in Saugutuck, Michigan, for the 9:30 p.m. 6/15 movie premiere — appropriately titled, “This Is What Love In Action Looks Like.”
Waterfront Film Fest asked ULIE to speak as part of the introduction of that evening’s movie, so Tommy Allen will be representing the movement – our past, present and future in West Michigan.
And we’ve been invited back again for the 11:30 p.m. 6/16 (Saturday) screening of “This Is What Love In Action Looks Like.”
Live announcement: Until Love Is Equal, Year Two
West Michigan Pride Festival
Riverside Park, Comstock Park (MI)
4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 16
Saturday, June 16 – West Michigan Pride Festival takes place in Comstock Park (Riverside Park) and Until Love Is Equal will make its first live announcement of all 2012 Year Two plans, from the mainstage, during the height of the late afternoon festivities.
June 16 marks the one-year anniversary of the founding of the movement, Until Love Is Equal. West Michigan Pride Fest 2011 was our first major exposure to the world, in our first week of existence, with a few hundred supporters at the time. Now thousands strong, the past year has provided a framework and a foundation to go “all in” for Year Two of the fight for equality in Holland, MI.
New Resources / New Apparel
Launching New Apparel by Plenty
This weekend you’ll see some people wearing new apparel that is being launched in commemoration of Year Two. We hope to have some apparel available for purchase at West MI Pride Fest (see above). Musicians at 6/15 “The Wallace Collective at New Holland Brewery” will be wearing old and new apparel, and our presenters at Waterfront Film Fest (6/15) will be wearing it as well. All apparel and merch is available at One Girl’s Treasure and we hope to have them stocked up with limited quantities by June 18. New buttons are being ordered as well.
Postcards With A Purpose!
Thanks to the design work of Plenty and the photography of Epiglotic Photographic, Until Love Is Equal is launching a massive production of tourist-type postcards with a purpose: these postcards will have space for YOU to fill in YOUR thoughts on the need for human rights protections in Holland, Michigan (USA). And they’re already pre-addressed to the honorable members of council. All you have to do is take one, fill it out, put a stamp on it, and drop it in the mail. We’ve setup an arrangement with United States Postal Service to streamline all mailings to ensure they arrive on time!
Meet-up kits: Act!
Consumable:Until Love Is Equal will make available a new tool for people in groups big and small, to take action: a new “meet up kit” will be for sale at cost online, to cover the hard costs of materials and printing, and people can then meet up with friends at home, a restaurant, a pub or coffee shop – and there will be tools to be involved in your own way!
Launching a new Directory:
Support those who endorse equality!
Through the help of Founders Brewing Company, we’ve created a totally new way of displaying endorsements by businesses: Directory to get YOUR name listed, and that of your business, nonprofit organization, band, collective, group or other entity.
Your listing is totally customizable and free: there are no costs associated with entries to the Directory, and the purpose is to remind our respected lawmakers that WE are an important indicator for the future of OUR region! Businesses very often lead the way, and local independent business most of all.
The Directory is a container for the voluntary participation of individuals and entities. It has long been requested that we update it. And so we have!
Summer & Beyond
Until… Death Do Us Part
[More details coming soon.]
A straight couple in West Michigan is getting married in July and they’re supporting a cause they believe in deeply, in the way they are conducting their ceremony.
Eric Raby II and Jo Schmidt have both been strong advocates for all that “Until Love Is Equal” stands for – and before that, before they even even met one another, they believed strongly in equality. So, in joining themselves in marriage, they said it seemed imperative to include the cause/campaign that is taking place in our West Michigan community.
“We are having the ceremony officiated by a dear friend who is a gay man, his boyfriend is providing the wine, and the maid of honor (Sara VanOver) is also a lifelong friend who is a lesbian and her girlfriend will also be in attendance.” Eric said their involvement in this cause has already inspired the Sara’s brother to request that she be ordained to perform his wedding in September.
“Our hope is that by taking a stand on our wedding day we can help to raise awareness and question those who stand in opposition of equality for all humankind.”
Until Love Is Equal buttons will be on tables along side flowers and champagne flutes, and they’ll speak about the issue in Holland, Michigan (USA) — they came up with this on their own, from their own convictions on this issue in Holland, Michigan (USA), and they contacted us.
Until Love Is Equal: The Elliott-Larsen Act
Until Love Is Equal to co-promote request for testimony for June 26, 2012 hearing in Holland, Michigan (USA) to advance amendment of Elliot-Larsen Act to include LGBTQ. In conjunction with the Holland Human Rights Commission, the MDCR is holding a public forum in the Holland City Council Chambers on June 26 from 7-9 pm. This will take place at Holland City Hall, 270 S. River Avenue. During this hearing, we will take public comment on the ELCRA and whether it should be expanded to include protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. A number of guest speakers with expertise on the current nondiscrimination law and related issues will be present. The general public is encouraged to attend the forum, particularly those who wish to provide testimony on whether and how ELCRA’s lack of protections for the LGBT population has affected them personally. If you would like to provide written comment, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We also invite you to “cc:” your email in confidence to < email@example.com > in order to ensure it is received (again, in confidence) by the city and state authorities who have the power to make change.
Announcing: ULIE returns to City Hall
On Oct. 5, 2011, Holland City Council suggested that Until Love Is Equal stop attending City Council mtgs. We had been providing diverse testimony from always-different, always-constructive sources, approx. 4-6 people every two weeks at Holland City Hall. We stopped, out of respect for the request of Councilors on Oct. 5, 2011. We did as they suggested and tried other means, other ways of advocating for our movement. But they haven’t been listening so we’re going back. Starting Sept. 19, 2012, Until Love Is Equal will resume the every-meeting cycle of attending and speaking at City Council meetings in Holland, Michigan (USA).
Partnerships & PSAs
The next PSA video: The Colbear Report
Until Love Is Equal is producing another original PSA video: this one will be an homage to the Stephen Colbert show. It will be done in the style of the show, as a short clip referencing local political issues (ahem!) with thought-provoking, dialog-spurring satirical humor.
We shoot the second week of July and hope to air this by the end of July.
Partnering with West MI high schools
Throughout the Spring, we began to hear about some Gay-Straight Alliance groups (GSAs) at area high schools, studying Until Love Is Equal as a model for organizing and constructive action. Conversations began, collaborations have materialized, and this is very exciting!
Throughout the summer, we’ll be working with several coordinators of GSAs to create professional videos of expression, poetry and other original thoughts of the future of the region: the students, who’ve been so active in the Holland fight for equality – some of our most loyal and regular attendees at City Council mtgs, before members of council suggested we stop attending.
Retrospective video about the movement.
To close out Year One and segue into Year Two, we’ve compiled a lot of our photos and videos and created a 2min. video that we hope inspires you to become involved in the movement. Please share the video (and this page URL with friends and family, some of whom may be in the video (so many people!)
Muskegon, MI passes its ordinance
There was no drama – not even a word of opposition – when a city resident asked the Muskegon City Commission to approve an addition to its hiring and housing policies to include “lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender” to the city anti-discrimination policies.
-From the Muskegon Chronicle, May 12, 2012.
Muskegon City Commission hosted a solutions-driven conversation Monday nigth, March 12, 2012 – three people spoke in favor of LGBT protections, incl. ULIE member Roberta King and ULIE founder Erin Wilson. The Commission voted to craft language for a final vote, and they agreed it was a “cut and dry” issue, and they agreed an ordinance would be a good thing.
Michigan Radio coverage of Muskegon’s vote March 12, 2012 to craft language for an ordinance against discrimination.
Mlive.com reporter Dave Alexanders’s feature: Muskegon accepts LGBT protection proposal, begins crafting language.
Ain’t too proud to beg.
We have the will, if you’ve got the way.
We’ve got no money and we need to spend $2,000 to keep going with the fight for equality. If you’d like to see this continue, and we hope you do, then we need your help. Please download this Sponsorship PDF for information on anonymous or attributed contributions to the movement. All donations go to materials, resources, printing and apparel costs.
Media: Kindly contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a callback from our speakers bureau, for an interview. Phone interviews will be available within an hour of your request. On-camera (video) interviews will require some advance coordination but we’ll do everything possible. Please include in your originating email any requests for high-res images, logos, etc.
On June 15, 2011, Holland (MI) city leaders voted down an ordinance that provided basic anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
The City of Holland’s own Human Relations Commission (HRC) – appointed by the Mayor of Holland – had researched at the request of City Council how best to protect the vulnerable LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Trans-gender) communities. The HRC recommended unanimously that City Council adopt an ordinance similar to many other metro areas in Michigan, including Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. A lot of outside money poured into the effort opposing the ordinance despite the fact that many of Holland’s residents and employers wanted it to pass. Surprisingly, Holland City Council rejected its own Human Relations Commission’s unanimous recommendation and voted down the ordinance resolution.
The disappointing outcome spread quickly on social media, throughout West Michigan. Many fellow Michiganders reacted with indignation, embarrassment and frustration. What would happen next? Nothing? Would this be another cycle of acute frustration left to run its course, to taper off and – ultimately, once more – to be forgotten? Was our outrage that inert? Were our options so limited?
No. Not in this region: not in the 21st Century. No more going backward. And no more leaving people out.
Until Love Is Equal emerged as a tool to accelerate the conversation and present wider perspectives on why these anti-discrimination protections matter so much. They matter to the region morally, and as a means of strategically recovering from a devastating economy. Major employers will not relocate to West Michigan in Holland if they discover we’re opposed to protecting vulnerable minorities. Not when nearly all corporations and companies have internal employee-rights language identifying LGBT personnel as a protected class (exactly like African Americans, Asian-Americans, etc.) Even Holland’s own major employers have endorsed the goals of our movement, in line with their own internal policies – which in many cases are more aggressive than the proposed ordinance, in terms of protecting minorities including LGBT personnel.
Grand Rapids and Holland (like any cities in West Michigan) are inextricably connected. Many Holland residents commute to Grand Rapids on a daily basis to work. Much of Grand Rapids’ own leadership in recovering from the current recession… can be traced back to pioneering efforts in the arts and culture sector. Which can be traced back to the 1994 (10th in the nation) ordinance to protect LGBT community members from discrimination. ArtPrize – the largest international arts festival – flourishes in Grand Rapids in part due to the city’s own 1994 anti-discrimination ordinance. In fact, Holland City Council member Brian Burch (a shocking “No” vote on the Holland ordinance June 15, 2011) derives income as a spokesperson for ArtPrize – himself benefitting from the 1994 Grand Rapids anti-discrimination ordinance, as a paid representative of an arts festival that surely would not have landed in West Michigan were it not for the protections Grand Rapids provides its gay and gay-friendly artists and patrons.
Until Love Is Equal embraced the idea of creating a list of businesses that supported the Holland ordinance – promoting those businesses and driving traffic to them! What a message that would send, as non-supportive businesses watched customers going into other stores.
Movements can be designed many ways. The efficacy of the path we’re on may not be known (definitively) until it’s all said and done. We’ve arrived at this place through open discussion, by trusting instincts and through soliciting dialog. We’ve kept our focus narrow. We’ve courteously yet tirelessly implored the lawmakers elected to protect the people of Holland… to embrace their Human Relations Commission recommendation and protect the most vulnerable communities in this beautiful, fair city.
This movement represents an opportunity for all of West Michigan to embrace what brings us together as one economy, one larger community, many cities interdependent of one another. We all need to be there for one another. This project has been about the art of organizing, the art of effective communication, and the art of moving people with a universal message that love is equal, and freedom from the fear of discrimination, which is a basic human right. It is our obligation to stand tall for one another, and we’ve created this as a benefit to our region and community.