Republicans were elected in November to turn around the economy, but they seem to have an awful lot of time to stick it to gay people.
May 5 was just the latest example. Instead of just slashing K-12 education by $430 per student and cutting state universities about 15 percent (some will get hit harder than others), some crafty Republicans managed to sneak in a little crass homophobia into the education budget bill.
Universities that offer same-sex benefits will take an additional 5-percent cut. What is utterly fascinating is that these same Republicans who pushed for this legislation claim to be strict constitutionalists.
Well, boys and ... well, let's face it, it's mostly boys. Read your damn constitution. The universities of our fine state are autonomous. So if you keep screwing with them by ordering ridiculous reports to kill embryonic stem cell research, ordering them not to raise tuition and ordering them not to give benefits to folks you find icky, you might find yourselves with a mighty expensive lawsuit on your hands.
And Michigan taxpayers will be on the hook for your power trip.
Not that some lawmakers need any excuse to pull out the anti-gay card, but I couldn't help wonder if University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman's fiery indictment of homophobia at the university's commencement last weekend might have set them off. Gov. Rick Snyder gave the address there -- not that I would bet he had any problem with her speech, as he supports civil unions.
Coleman lauded U of M Student Body President Chris Armstrong, the subject of former Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shrivell's anti-gay campaign.
"But the biggest headlines for Chris came because of the fact that he is a gay man -- the first to lead the Student Assembly," Coleman said at graduation. "... When this generated criticism and bullying, he did not blink. He continued to hold his head high, as student body president and as a University of Michigan student and remained dedicated to promotingequality, tolerance and compassion."
This isn't the first time this year the Legislature has tried to slash away the gay. Republicans fought tooth and nail against partner benefits for some state employees, even though they were the result of years of negotiations between the state's Civil Service Commission and unions.
A constitutional amendment -- yes, altering our state constitution was deemed necessary, allegedly because the benefits would cost the state $6 million -- passed in the GOP-led Senate, but failed in the House. As a result, some angry Republicans want to do another constitutional amendment to get rid of the Civil Service Commission and probably collective bargaining rights. Bonus!
And let's not forget that we haven't been able to put an anti-bullying policy in place for years because Gary Glenn, the head of the American Family Association of Michigan, says it's just a trojan horse to push the gay agenda. And that's been enough to scare Republican lawmakers into doing nothing, even as more tragic incidents with kids keeping piling up.
Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) has finally taken up the issue, but there's no provision to help kids who are gay. That would upset Gary Glenn, who is quite fragile, too much.
Here's one final reality check. The majority of Americans now support gay marriage, according to a poll last month by CNN. By the time my 8-year-old daughter has kids of her own, this won't even be an issue.
So you can demonize "the gay" -- as some enlightened lawmakers call them -- all you want. But change has already come. You're way behind.
Follow Susan J. Demas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sjdemas