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Monday, March 18,2013

Human rights ratings

The Lansing Association for Human Rights grades Lansing City Council candidates on their stances on various LGBT issues. One candidate is “very surprised” by his “inaccurate” rating.

by Andy Balaskovitz
Friday, July 15 — A Lansing City Council candidate writes that he is “very surprised” by an “inaccurate” rating he received on gay rights issues by the Lansing Association for Human Rights after filling out the group’s nine-question campaign survey.

First Ward candidate Philip Damico reacted to his “mixed” rating from the political action committee on LAHR’s Facebook page early Thursday morning.

“I feel very strongly that I was extremely supportive and positive of all of my answers in the survey sent to me. I have always supported the LAHR and have openly, in the press and and in interviews stated that I fully support same-sex marriage in Lansing and Michigan as well as benefits for same-sex partners. …

“I also have several friends, coworkers and family members who are members of the LAHR community, and I encourage you to reach out to them and they will tell you that your results are far from accurate.”

LAHR-PAC President William Sawyer-Todd could not be reached for comment. Sawyer-Todd also chairs the East Lansing Human Relations Commission.

LAHR’s website says: “In an historic first, all candidates responded to the questionnaire.” The advocacy group rated all 12 Council candidates on their views toward LGBT rights, the city’s human rights ordinance and their role in the LGBT community. Ratings ranged from “mixed” to “extremely positive.” The PAC grades those seeking public office in Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties.

First Ward
Lynne Martinez received the highest rating of the entire 12-candidate field with “extremely positive.” Jody Washington and Harold Leeman each received “very positive” ratings; Joe Manzella’s was “positive.” Damico was the only candidate who received a “mixed” rating.

LAHR announced on Facebook that it would not release each candidates’ completed survey “in order to encourage candidates to return them and to prevent opponents from using them against pro-LGBT supporters.”

But Damico thinks they should have been released: “I encourage you to do this also so that LAHR and all of its members may choose for themselves to see if your results are accurate. I find your results of me to be rather inaccurate to be honest.”

Damico backed up his comments in an interview today. “I don’t now how they do the ratings,” he said. “I was really surprised. It kind of blew me away. I’ve always been a supporter of the (LGBT) community.”

At-Large
In the At-Large race, three candidates received “very positive” ratings — Carol Wood, Derrick Quinney and Rory Neuner. Neuner is an openly gay candidate. Candidates John Krohn and Thomas Stewart each received “positive” ratings.

Krohn posted the questions of the survey and his responses on his campaign website. The questions touched on the city’s human rights ordinance, diversity training for city employees, the city’s policy on benefits coverage, hiring and appointing LGBT officials, same-sex marriage, a woman’s right to privacy and any involvement the candidate has had with the LGBT community.

The Aug. 2 primary will whittle five 1st Ward candidates to two and five At-Large candidates to four for the Nov. 8 General Election. The two 3rd Ward candidates — incumbent A’Lynne Robinson and Jason Wilkes — will compete only in the general. Robinson received a “very positive” rating, while Wilkes’ was “positive.”


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