Here in Michigan, with the exception of a handful of cities, you can be evicted from your home for being gay. You may also be fired for the same reason. I find that unacceptable. It’s actually unacceptable for everyone else in the state too, no matter what their political or personal beliefs may be, because it’s turning the same people away from living here that we are investing so much time and money to attract.
I wrote on this topic in a recent column in The Bridge, and it got a little bit of attention. The concept was based on the fact that we’re already spending so much on placemaking here in Michigan to attract and retain people in my own generation, we can’t continue to maintain and promote social policies that are detracting those same people. Really, it’s not a partisan argument. It’s just a simple, calculated line of logic that suggests we strengthen the investment we’re already making.
An interesting thing happened after the column ran. A lot of people read it. Oh, I’m sorry, did I say interesting? I meant a super cool, awesome, amazing thing. Among those readers were the folks at Michigan Radio, who invited me to be interviewed on Stateside with Cynthia Canty. Fast forward through my jumping up and down and clapping and giggling and general rabid excitement over getting to be on my very favorite show on my very favorite media outlet ON THE PLANET, and I was nervous. Not only to be interviewed, but for my opinion to be broadcast so far and wide. Would that be OK? Would it hurt my career? Would it hurt anyone’s feelings?
Now that the column is out and the interview has aired, I honestly still don’t know the answers to those questions, but I was left with a surprise result: I have even more to say about this. And I kind of want to say it, no matter how scary that may feel.
One of the questions Cynthia asked me during our interview was what Millennials themselves are doing to make Michigan the kind of place we want it to be. It was a super question, because one of the most stunning data points about my generation is that we are the least politically active ever. I considered saying, “Well, I mean, I just wrote 600 words on the topic, so I guess my work here is pretty much done,” but it occurred to me that sarcasm and news radio don’t always complement each other.
While I was answering the question though, some gears in my heads started whirring that have not stopped since. Writing a column about it isn’t enough. Maybe even writing a whole lot about it won’t be enough. What can I do to make sure Michigan doesn’t continue down the path of becoming an increasingly dangerous place for women’s healthcare? What am I doing to stave off ongoing attacks on our poorest citizens? Not a whole lot so far.
If I honestly feel that Michigan’s success is tied to attracting more young professionals to the state, and that these things are deterring them, I don’t really have the option of not doing anything, do I? Do we? So I’m looking at you guys — us, the children of the 80s and 90s who want to make Michigan a better place to live — what are we going to do about it?