Lorence Wenke, who spent six years in the Michigan state House of Representatives as a Republican, has announced that he has switched political affiliations to the Libertarian Party and that he intends to run against his former party to try to win a state senate seat.
Wenke cited two reasons for leaving the party – the first being its treatment of gays and lesbians.
‘The Republican Party leads the movement in Kalamazoo County, our state, and in our nation to discriminate against our gay family members, friends and neighbors,’ Wenke said in a statement outlining his reasons for leaving the party made public five days ago.
‘I support the constitutional right of our gay family members to enjoy the same rights as our heterosexual family members. In 2004, I was one of two Republican legislators out of 63 to vote against the addition of the Marriage Protection Amendment to Michigan’s Constitution.
‘I was the only legislator to call it what it is – discrimination against our gay brothers and sisters. At that time, three local Republican legislators with gay brothers never said a word in support of gay rights. I challenge them with this question: “If you will not stand up for your own family members, who will you stand up for?”’
Wenke called Republican Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and his lieutenant governor out on the issue, accusing them of political cowardice.
‘Governor Snyder and Lt. Gov. Calley are not willing to publicly take a position for or against gay rights. I can only assume it is because they fear the political consequences,’ Wenke said.
‘Republicans have encouraged many of our churches to support political efforts to discriminate against gays by condemning them for what they perceive as a sinful lifestyle choice. These same people often ignore the clear teachings of Jesus and Paul stating that remarriage after divorce is committing adultery. If the church required divorced members to live a celibate, single life, there would be fewer divorces and presumably marriage would be protected and valued.’
Wenke said even the one of the architect’s of Michigan’s ban on same-sex couples marrying now regretted his part in the whole affair.
‘As majority floor leader in 2004, Republican Representative Chris Ward helped ensure the placement of the Marriage Protection Amendment on the ballot so that George W. Bush could be re-elected,’ Wenke said.
Wenke quoted Ward’s recent comments on the issue: ‘Looking back now, one of the things that bothers me the most about the whole episode was how dehumanizing it was. It was just politics. But it wasn’t politics,’ Ward had said.
‘Those were people. We Republicans singled out a whole group of people, most of whom just wanted to be left alone, to forcefully discriminate against them for short-term political benefits.
‘All around us were our friends, colleagues, family members, highly valued staff members and people we care about who this clearly was going to hurt. Nobody seemed to think a thing of it. My own particular purgatory is to be forever doomed to be on the wrong side of history.’
Wenke’s other issue with leaving the part was the way it spent taxpayer’s money, citing what he believes is an overly generous pension scheme for government employees where they are paid 75% of their final year’s pay packet for the rest of their lives on retirement.
‘I am leaving the Republican Party, including many who I consider to be friends, because of the suffering and injustice needlessly inflicted on our gay family members,’ Wenke wrote in his closing comments, ‘I consider it an honor to have anti-gay citizens vote against me because of my support for equal rights for our gay family members.’
‘I am leaving the Republican Party because our spending of taxpayer dollars has been immoral and is leading our country to bankruptcy. I have joined the Libertarian Party and expect to be on the ballot in November as their Kalamazoo County Senate Candidate (20th District).’