Bizarre, Deceptive Marketing by Anti-Gay Groups in Kalamazoo

So I was headed out to the store this evening when I noticed a middle-aged couple roaming my neighborhood with clipboards and flier. Normally I avoid these sorts of creepy folks regardless of the issue, but before I knew it one of them was pressing a door-hanger flier in my hands. Glancing at it quickly I noticed it read “Vote No to Discrimination.”

Several months ago the Kalamazoo City Commission approved an anti-discrimination statute that protects gay, lesbian and transgender individuals from discrimination. Opponents of the ordinance gathered a few thousand petition signatures against the law, however, and by law the City had to either repeal the law or put it on the November ballot. So now the law is on the November ballot.

Just glancing at the “Vote No to Discrimination” language I assumed this was from one of the groups seeking to keep the law. It quickly became clear, however, that instead this was from the various anti-gay groups trying to overturn the law. Here’s a scan of the bizarre flier,

Vote No - Front Vote No - Back

Normally I don’t get involved in actual voting, but that’s creepy enough to maybe get me to the polls this November. One Kalamazoo is the coalition that is leading the fight to keep the ordinance.

14 Responses

  1. Andy McHugh September 12, 2009 / 10:44 pm

    Mary Balkema has some serious gender/bathroom issues. They spend an inordinate amount of time on the few transsexuals we have and blithely ignore everyone else this law is intended to protect. Those transsexuals are not predators, they are not “Men sneaking into Women’s Bathrooms” – this sort of Non Thinking really irritates me.

    What would these people do if every gay, lesbian, or trans person decided to shun the city, I mean, we don’t have to go where we aren’t wanted, where we aren’t protected… their lives would fall apart.

    Imagine if I followed that. Decided that I wasn’t going to go into the city anymore. How much that would affect WMU… hmmm. Not actually going to do that, but the idea is still valid.

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  2. Buffy September 13, 2009 / 4:22 am

    I swear the doublespeak they engage in must have Orwell spinning in his grave. They’re despicable beyond belief.

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  3. eastownlewis September 14, 2009 / 11:20 pm

    The funny thing about the bathroom issue is, most people don’t even know we are already there, Trans or Cross-dresser.
    More often than not those that do not pass either choose for their own safety to not “go” in public or use the “inappropriate” restroom. As for men (5′ 3″ small framed person) I got kicked out of men’s rooms, and got funny looks as other men double checked the sign on the door for YEARS before transition or even accepting who I knew I was. Not once have I been questioned since I started using the woman’s room.

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  4. Anonymous September 15, 2009 / 8:35 am

    More than half the time I use the ladies room, I get glared at, women pull their children close and walk out against the walls, or I get told I am in the wrong bathroom. There is no way that I could yet pass to use the mens room. When I can I use the unisex, or any single bathroom with one toilet and a door. How nice it would be to not have to worry, that because my gender does not match my sex I could still go to the bathroom in peace. But this ordinance has nothing to do with bathroom laws. Michigan has firm public bathroom laws. This law is about equality in job, housing, and public places. I deserve the right to be who I am and be protected by the law to that end. So do you.

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  5. Brian Carnell September 16, 2009 / 11:04 am

    Re: the bathroom issue — there is a clear bait and switch here in the above. First they ask “do you want your .. wife.. to share a bathroom with a crossdressing man?” Um, really don’t have an opinion either way. But they follow that up with the image of what is clearly supposed to be a creepy looking man lurking outside a woman’s restroom, oddly enough not a crossdresser but lets leave that for the moment.

    So it is unsafe/dangerous/whatever to allow transgendered people to use the bathroom, and passing this ordinance will create those problems.

    Fine. There are 15 cities in Michigan that have similar ordinances: Ann Arbor, Birmingham, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Douglas, East Lansing, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Ledge, Grand Rapids, Huntington Woods, Lansing, Saginaw, Saugatuck and Ypsilanti.

    Lets have a list from these folks showing all the crimes and incidents in public bathrooms that these cities have had to deal with. Given the hyperbole from AFA, these ordinances must have unleashed veritable bathroom crime sprees in those cities which should be fairly easy to document.

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  6. Kaptain Krunch September 17, 2009 / 12:49 am

    Most people aren’t going to waste the time understanding people they’ll rarely cross, so expect glares and child-grabbing and weird looks. Even I, with a fairly open mind, look more closely at things and people unusual. It goes with the territory.

    As far as the law.

    Sounds like ignorant folk, but I’m not sure if I’m down with any law that presumes people don’t have the right to be ignorant. Discriminating against a gay person for a job or housing isn’t the same as beating one. If people don’t support ignorance, they can vote with their money and mouths. And, anyone too lazy to bother, deserves to be surrounded by old creepy couples in their neighborhood hanging doorknob signs they hate. People like to hear laws passed, then, sit back and yawn, like: Now everything’s taken care of. Because of this legislation, gay people are equals. Hurray. The real question is: How do you change that creepy couple’s mind but not be so fascist that you outlaw ignorance. Because no matter how forward-thinking you assume yourself to be, there’ll always be someone who may or may not be ahead of you that you disagree with.

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  7. Brian Carnell September 17, 2009 / 11:23 am

    What also annoys me about this is the incoherent free speech argument. The claim is made that the anti-discrimination statute would impinge upon the free speech rights of businesses who do not want to affiliate themselves with gay or transgendered individuals. There is clearly a tension between free speech and free association on the one hand and anti-discrimination laws on the other, and plenty of court cases and precedents that try to find a balance.

    1. The argument opponents are using would apply just as well to any other anti-discrimination criteria. For example, in most jurisdictions in Michigan I believe it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on their status as a military veteran. Under the argument used above, that would be just as much a restriction on the rights of free speech and free association as the ban on discriminating against LGBTs. Do opponents of the ordinance believe that, in general, all anti-discrimination laws are unacceptable impingements on the First Amendment?

    2. If it violates my freedom of speech/association to say I can’t use sexual orientation in hiring decisions, surely the special federal treatment that the Boy Scouts of America receives is equally such an affront. The BSA in its current form was established with a Congressional charter that gives it a number of privileges that similar organizations simply do not have access to (for example, no other similar group is able to use the word “Scout” so I can’t create an Atheist Scouts or a LGBT Scouts). Moreover the BSA receives assistance and cooperation from other Federal agencies that, again, are pretty much not available to other Scouting-type groups.

    Do opponents of the ordinance support revocation of the BSA charter?

    3. Finally, what really bothers me about this flyer is the demonizing of transgendered individuals as sexual predators. Clearly from both the text and the image I am supposed to conclude that it wouldn’t be safe for my wife or daughter to share a bathroom with a transgendered person.

    Which, again, is odd because a quick look of stories involving violent acts and transgendered people shows a lot of cases where transgendered individuals are the victims of assault and worse, but I don’t see a lot of “transgendered individual assaults woman in the bathroom” stories. In fact, I don’t see any of them. In fact there are cases of people who were *not* transgendered being assaulted — and in one particularly heart wrenching case murdered — simply because people mistakenly *assumed* they were transgendered.

    That’s where the rhetoric on this file becomes truly reprehensible. Further demonizing a group of individuals that already faces insults, assaults and worse is outrageous.

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  8. E Carnell September 17, 2009 / 11:29 am

    A friend of mine is female, heterosexual… and 6’0″ tall and had closely-cropped hair for awhile. We road tripped on numerous occasions and more than once did someone in the ladies’ room freak out because they couldn’t be arsed to look closely before assuming that my friend was male.

    In addition to to ignorance, we need to add laziness.

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  9. Alison September 17, 2009 / 4:36 pm

    Super timely post for me as I am researching ballot initiatives like this for a document to be presented along with the Congressional hearings on the federal non-discrimination act, ENDA. So thanks.

    As as woman all I can say is – what could be safer in a woman’s rest room than a biological man with a female gender identity? There’s no threat there, plus they are taller so they can reach the extra toilet paper rolls that some man always stacks way up on top of the paper towel dispenser where I can’t reach them. AND, they always know more about makeup than I do. Seriously, I was once in a bathroom in San Francisco with a transgendered individual who was extremely helpful and did not make me feel uncomfortable in any way, unlike the probably heterosexual, passed out bum sleeping in the doorway in his own waste products.

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  10. Well September 17, 2009 / 9:23 pm

    “Sounds like ignorant folk, but I’m not sure if I’m down with any law that presumes people don’t have the right to be ignorant. Discriminating against a gay person for a job or housing isn’t the same as beating one. If people don’t support ignorance, they can vote with their money and mouths. ”

    It’s the typical paranoid American sensibility that anti-discrimination laws are “fascist,” and that it is better to consider any far-fetched slippery slope argument as more important than the actual discrimination taking place. It’s one of the reason that it’s so difficult in America to have discussions about a multitude of topics. The paranoid sensibility eventually creeps in, and shuts down the debate. We can’t even go there.

    I once came across a reply by a Libertarian leaning homosexual, who managed to effectively sum up those concerns. I have posted it here because I think that, at the very least, it shows how complex the argument is, and why it should never be cast aside under the guise of defending against ‘fascism.” People need to show more consideration when using that term.
    ————————————————-

    “I am a libertarian minded person, and gay. I have often pondered the question of what role should play, and how far the government should intercede, when dealing with discrimination. I feel your arguments are faulty on several fronts.

    First there is the issue of the private establishment. A restaraunt can be a privately owned entitly, but, unless it is a truely private affair, such as a restaraunt contained within the confines of a private and exclusing golf coarse, then it is open to the public at large, thus it is intended for public access and not a private establishment. Restaraunts can still discriminate. For instance, most will not serve customers who are not wearing shoes and shirts (unless of coarse it is on the beach, then all bets are off). But there are substantive reasons behind that type of discrimination. Those rules help provide a more sanitary dining environment, which is logiacal, reasoned, and good for business. But there is no rational reason to prevent someone of a particular race from eating at your establishment.

    Racist vs Black. Lets reverse the situation. Can a black restaraunteer decline service to a racist? You say yes. But, unless the racist is a well known public figure, i.e. David Dukes, or he or she is wearing their feelings on their sleeves, tatoos or tee shirts, then how is the black restaraunteer to know that person is a racist? But the racist restaraunteer will almost always be able to tell if a customer is black. Now carry this example over to employment. Libertarians dislike the idea that one person is less equal than the other. Yet, by your rules, you have set up a situation where one person has less inherent choices and freedoms than the other, thus they have been made unequal. That’s not very libertarian AFAIAC.

    This goes for gay people as well. We’re allowed to be denied housing, gardeners in Texas can refuse to provide their services to gay people, we can be kicked out of hotels and restaurants, organizations such as the Boy Scouts can refuse to accept gay youth as members – in fact this happens all the time.

    Just because something happens all the time does not make it OK.

    Should gay people be denied housing just because they are gay? No. But that doesn’t automatically give them the right to claim discrimination because they didn’t get the house they wanted. If a tennant has had bad experiences with gay renters, say the last three gay renters left the apartment or house without paying the last months rent, or trashed the place, then I think the landlord has good reason to want renters of a different persuasion.

    Should a gardener be able to choose not to enter into a contract with you because you are gay? It’s short sighted, and bad for business, but since he would be an employee, he should have the right to not work where he doesn’t want to.

    Gays not getting served or getting kicked out of hotels and restaurants? See the previous paragraph on restaurants. That’s ok – people are allowed to be anti-gay bigots. That’s freedom.

    I agree. People should be free to be bigots if they want. People are free to pick and choose who they include in their circle of friends and aquainances. If they want to have dinners at their house hosting KKK members, or even rent their restaurant out to an after hours dominatrix party (as long as they clean up afterwards), fine. There is nothing the government can or should do about this. That’s freedom. It is when the general public is directly affected that the government does, by its very nature, have some role to play in the afairs of its citizens.”

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  11. Steven September 24, 2009 / 12:06 pm

    Another new equally appalling flyer from the opposition campaign:

    http://twitpic.com/iw7l9

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  12. sfkling October 16, 2009 / 5:14 pm

    what is laziness? The right to be a bigot. Shit. If that is what rights are about, fuck rights and fuck people who think it’s okay. grow an ass and throw some venom in my face. That is about something I get. You are entitled to think what you want. You want to spit in my face and call it free speech? Enjoy.

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  13. WSpencer October 19, 2009 / 5:41 pm

    Like i said on another site…Why don’t these people collect signatures for something that really does affect their lives…like healthcare or how government spends our money or war? This is getting really freaking old, expensive, and ridiculous.

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  14. Rev. Donna Tara Lee October 22, 2009 / 11:38 pm

    the man in the add? He was also in the add in Gainesville, Fl. opposing GLBT rights. Show’s what liars and bigots the opponents of human rights are.

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