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Saturday, November 26, 2011

California Dreamin' : A letter from the Godfather


A blog entry from Alan, our dear friend, and Godfather to our children. When Michigan finally shuts its doors in a few years, and only the casinos and medical marijuana clinics are left, you can thank the hateful Prop 4 from a few years back. The brain/creativity drain that this state is experiencing is staggering. You can find more of his work here at his personal blog: http://akiste.wordpress.com/

Dear Governor Snyder,

Greetings from California!

My name is Alan. I was born and raised in Michigan. Most of my family lives in Michigan. My husband, Brian, was born in Michigan and most of his family lives there as well. We both received our degrees at Michigan colleges. Brian has served as Director of IT for several successful high-tech Michigan companies. Most recently I was a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Michigan. And now I have just begun my first semester as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at [California University], in [somewheresville], California.

Given my life-long Michigan connection (and my family has lived in Michigan for well over a century), and given that there were open positions in the Chemistry Departments of Grand Valley State University or Western Michigan University for which I was highly qualified, you may be curious as to why I am now a Californian. Put simply: an important factor in our decision to leave our home and family is that Michigan’s Republican-controlled government is too anti-gay for my husband and me to continue to live there.

So then, my years of experience as a successful high school chemistry teacher (and four-time Kellogg Foundation Influential Educator award winner), as a researcher in cutting-edge polymer chemistry research as well as novel educational research, the money paid by Michigan residents to fund my two University of Michigan Master’s Degrees and my U-M PhD (12 years of University of Michigan tuition, benefits, and stipends!) are all now benefiting the state of California and its residents. Things may not be perfect here when it comes to equality, but at least California offers domestic partnerships and benefits. Not to mention, of course, the loss to Michigan of having two highly-paid professionals spending their combined income in California instead of Michigan.

Do you think that sounds like a net win for Michigan? Do you think losing all those thousands of dollars in our spending and taxes and our combined job experience (not to mention community involvement and volunteer work) was really worth the pittance that domestic partnership benefits may have cost the state? Clearly the answer is “No, and no.” So then, for you and the other Michigan Republicans to claim that this is an economic decision is obviously false.

If I am wrong and your decision to steal benefits from state employees truly is about the economy, not bigotry, then I am sure that you will point me where you have announced that you will guarantee to reinstate these benefits when the economy improves. Or, if this is really about the cost of benefits, then I’m sure you can point me to your proposal to cover only gay male couples — we’re cheaper to insure than heterosexual couples because we don’t need hugely expensive maternity coverage. Or, if this is about the economy, perhaps you should simply cut maternity coverage for everyone altogether. Having children is, after all, a lifestyle choice and as you have said, “the additional cost associated with the extension of health benefits to a new group [ie babies] in the midst of significant budget shortfall could potentially impact the ability to hire staff necessary to provide services for state citizens.”

You know what else could potentially impact the ability to hire staff necessary to provide services for state citizens? If highly qualified potential employees move away. But clearly this isn’t about the economy at all. The passage of the hateful Prop 4 back in 2004 was bad enough. However, Michigan voters were assured again and again by supporters of that constitutional amendment that “every single person currently receiving any kind of benefit would continue to do so.” (Metro Times, October 24, 2004). Of course, those people lied and immediately set to work to try to dismantle domestic partnership benefits at state universities.

It is disappointing to see you and your Republicans friends once again dancing to the tune being played by right-wing religious political extremists in Michigan. It is even more disappointing to see you attempt to hide behind the obviously phony claim that this is an economic decision while just this week you were trumpeting Michigan’s #2 economic ranking in the recent BEES report.

But, if you believe that it is worth saving a couple bucks and to lose talented Michigan residents and their experience, their incomes, and thousands of dollars of tax revenue in order to satisfy the anti-gay agenda of religious bigots, then I’m sure you’ll agree that it was fortuitous that my husband and I moved out of Michigan. From talking to our friends in Michigan — both gay and straight — it sounds like we may have lots of new neighbors out here in California in the near future, too.

Sincerely,

– Alan, [somewhereville], CA