Courtesy of Johnny Jenkins, Affirmations programs director
A 100-day hunger strike that kicked off this week in metro Detroit to bring attention to the issue of gay rights in Michigan has brought lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community leaders together from Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Midland and Grand Rapids.
Beginning Monday, volunteers for the “Hungry 4 Equality” campaign began taking full 24-hour shifts sitting in a makeshift living space in the office of Affirmations, a community center for LGBT activities in Ferndale.
People walking by the office can learn of the effort through signage the organization has placed in the windows. As of Tuesday, 50 volunteers had signed up for the strike.
Among the people that have volunteered to fast for 24 hours straight include Terence McGinn, president of the board of directors of the Jim Toy Community Center in Ann Arbor.
“This is not just a statement being made in Detroit by the folks at Affirmations, but being made by the eight centers across the state,” McGinn said. “It’s important to express our support for those young folks who face an unequal future.”
The center, located on Braun Court, serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Ann Arbor.
A number of laws in Michigan diminish the rights for same-sex couples and gay individuals: A constitutional amendment prohibits gay couples from marrying or entering a civil union, and recently-enacted law discontinued health care coverage for domestic partners of municipal public employees.
In Michigan municipalities that don't have non-discrimination ordinances that specify LGBT individuals as a protectedclass, LGBT individuals can be fired for their sexual orientation —as well as denied housing.