Citing GOP opposition to gay rights, state Senate candidate Lorence Wenke leaves Republican Party
KALAMAZOO, MI – Former state Rep. Lorence Wenke is leaving the Republican Party and will run for state Senate in November as a Libertarian.Let's look at Wenke's statement and see if it stands up to scrutiny.
In a statement dated April 25, the long-time Southwest Michigan Republican cited the party's "discrimination" against gay citizens and what he characterized as "taxpayer abuse," which he said has created "an elite class" of government employees, as the reasons behind his decision.
I am leaving the Republican Party for two reasons:They do. Homosexuals have exactly the same rights as everyone else, including the right to marry on the same terms. Nobody has the 'right' to marry someone of the same sex.
1. 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.
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?”The constituents who elected them?
Governor Snyder and Lt. Gov. Calley are not willing to publically take a position for or against gay rights. I can only assume it is because they fear the political consequences.Huh? I'm pretty sure that the churches' position on marriage preceded that of the Republicans.
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.The marriage amendment was placed on the ballot by petition signatures, not the legislature. The legislative vote didn't get the 2/3 needed.
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.
Recently Mr. Ward wrote, “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. 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.”The marriage amendment maintained the status quo. It defined marriage; it did not single anyone out.
2. The Republican Party has abused taxpayer financially for the benefit of government employeesWenke's concerns about public sector compensation are well-founded. But what does he expect to be done about it? As he notes, Republicans have not had more than one or two Kalamazoo city commissioners in decades. So 'speaking out' about the issue wouldn't accomplish much.
Most government employees have become an elite class of workers in Kalamazoo County, our state and In our nation with compensation packages far exceeding the private sector. Although the statistics in support of this over-compensation are overwhelming, I will not go into detail except for one example.
The City of Kalamazoo and the County of Kalamazoo have very similar compensation plans for their employees. For decades, Kalamazoo city commissioners have been mostly Democrats and Kalamazoo County commissioners have been mostly Republicans with a few notable exceptions. Republicans John Vander Ploeg, Al Heilman and Mary Balkema were Kalamazoo city commissioners. They said almost nothing about the generous compensation of city employees.
Republican small business owner, John Vander Ploeg, former Republican Party chairman, Al Heilman, and current Kalamazoo County Treasurer, Mary Balkema talk about good government but they are silent because there is a price to pay in business and on Election Day for anyone who opposes generous benefits for so many.
Most city and county employees can retire with 75% of their last pay check for life, as well as health care that is nearly free. Recently, a city manager retired after 22 years of work with an annual pension of $110,000 for the rest of his life. An assistant retired with an annual pension of $87,000.
As Wenke must surely know, the biggest factor responsible for over-generous public sector benefits is public sector unions. Unions battle hard for these benefits, including trying to defeat or recall any politician who stands in their way. For a long time, there wasn't much that could be done. But since 2010, Republicans in Lansing have passed right to work, which limits the power of unions. They have also passed a strengthened emergency manager law, which allows emergency managers to cancel union agreements when cities are on the verge of bankruptcy. This encourages other cities to make more responsible agreements.
Maybe Republicans could have done more, but they have made real progress. What else does Wenke expect them to do?
Republicans have made some progress on government employee benefits, and haven't changed (much) on marriage. So why did Wenke really leave now? Some Gazette commenters have a different theory.
Seems awfully convenient to pull this stunt on withdraw day. If he was so concerned with gay rights, he would have done this a month ago. To do this on Friday tells me that he knew he was getting no traction in the GOP primary (being in the race since last year). So Wenke decides the best course is to engage in Mutually Assured Destruction.Another:
He can harp on his old refrains from six years ago, but this smacks of an act of petty self-centered desperation, not, as he would contend, principle.
I don't believe Mr. Wenke is leaving the Republican party because the majority of Republicans believe in "Traditional Marriage"; I do believe however, that Mr. Wenke is leaving the Republican party at this time because he knows he doesn't have a chance to win the State Senate race against Margaret O'Brien.It appears that Wenke finally realized that he wasn't going to win the Republican primary. This blog has chronicled Wenke's terrible electoral record before. Does he really thinks he can win as a libertarian, or just want to spite Republicans for not supporting him?
If Mr. Wenke were so concerned with the rights of American citizens, and was working to help American families, he wouldn't be so quick to support Amnesty for Illegal Aliens. During a discussion regarding a resolution to not give Illegal Aliens amnesty, Mr. Wenke said that Americans dont want to work, alluding that he must hire Illegals to get people to work in his businesses. I don't think Americans have issues working.
If Mr. Wenke wants to leave the Republican party because many Republicans believe in traditional marriage, and believe that American citizens and their families should come first, and be helped before those here illegally, then so be it.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.