By Charles Sercombe
The dust has not settled over the controversial election of a gay rights ordinance from 2008.
Last August we printed a story on the contributors of those who opposed Hamtramck’s proposal. Those election reports showed that the American Family Association of Tupelo, Mississippi was a major donator to the committee opposed to the gay rights ordinance, giving it $6,000.
Not surprisingly, the committee that supported the proposal also had outside special interest groups contribute to their cause. The single largest contributor was the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force of Washington D.C., which donated $5,000.
The next largest contributor was Michigan Equality of Lansing, donating $1,000 and the Triangle Foundation of Detroit, who kicked in $750.
Both committees involved in the election had a similar war chest, with Hamtramck Citizens Voting No to “Special Rights” Discrimination with a slight edge at $9,800 and the Hamtramck United Against Discrimination committee reporting $9,200.
The proposition lost by 600 votes.
In the August report on who financed the opposition, Greg Manore was critical of outside anti-gay rights groups and individuals getting involved in Hamtramck’s proposition. He was also critical of Jay McNally, a consultant for the opposition, saying he is one of many people opposed to gay rights who makes a living “spreading hate.”
Manore, of Hamtramck, was an organizer for the campaign to adopt the proposal. McNally, a resident of Ypsilanti, was paid almost $5,000 in consultant fees to help defeat the proposal.
McNally vehemently denies he makes a living campaigning against gay rights, and says he is not a “hater” of gays or anyone. McNally demanded a retraction and apology from this newspaper and threatened to file a libel lawsuit.
“Greg Manore insults not only me with these kinds of absurd slurs, but also 55 percent of the voters who rejected the ordinance,” McNally said in an email. “We don’t hate anyone. We object to wrong-headed laws that create special rights for people at the expense of others.”
McNally further criticized Manore, saying: “Before the Hamtramck campaign, Greg Manore was a full-time employee of the Triangle Foundation. The Triangle Foundation always demonizes those who oppose their radical homosexual agenda.”
Manore said he was not a full-time employee but was an unpaid intern for the organization.
As for the issue of outside special interest groups funding local campaigns, McNally said, “It is hypocritical for Hamtramck United and The Citizen to criticize our campaign for accepting funds from people outside of the city. The other side took huge contributions from national and state-wide radical homosexual groups.”
McNally said the proposal was ultimately defeated by organizing the community on a grassroots level – not necessarily by who spent the most money.
“Our side won only because of the grass-roots involvement of several hundred Hamtramck residents who worked hard to defeat the ordinance,” McNally said. “If necessary, they will fight this battle again.”
The issue of gay rights has increasingly been debated in community after community across the country. It has also reached the national level with Congress recently adopting a gay rights bill – known as the Matthew Shepherd Act. The Act was signed into law by President Obama in October.
The Act expands the federal hate crime law in several ways, including hate crimes committed against gays.
Congressman John Conyers was a prime backer of the Act and held a town hall meeting on it in Hamtramck several months ago. The host of the meeting was the Hamtramck branch of the NAACP. The president of the branch, Kamal Rahman, was an opponent of Hamtramck’s gay rights proposal.