By Charles Sercombe
Michigan Democratic legislators promised voters that, if they became the majority in the state legislature, they would take swift action to make changes.
One of those changes included amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBTQ community.
In other words, gay and transgender rights will be protected from discrimination.
Predictably, this has led to pushback from conservatives, including from some in Hamtramck’s religious community.
And, taking some of that heat is Hamtramck native State Rep. Abraham Aiyash who was a co-sponsor for the amendment. The state senate previously also approved the amendment, and it now heads over to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her approval.
Aiyash, whose district includes Hamtramck, is no ordinary Democrat. He’s the Democratic Majority Floor Leader – the person who helps schedule what issues will be considered, and who organizes legislative plans.
Aiyash is the first Yemeni-American from Hamtramck to be elected to the state house, and he is the first Arab-American to be the floor leader.
While he has championed progressive causes, there are some in the socially conservative Yemeni community –and others — who do not agree with some of those positions, such as on gay rights.
On Hamtramck-based social media, Aiyash has received pushback.
“Disappointed that a bunch or Narcissists have their own laws above and beyond the rest of us. The Homosexual Mafia strikes again,” said Mouhamad A. Naboulsi, on the Facebook page called Hamtramck Square.”
Stephanie Butler added: “What a gem he is. You sold your community out. You sold our daughters out. Way to GO.”
But there were others who praised Aiyash.
“Thank you, Majority Leader Aiyash, for standing on the correct side of history and leading by example of coexisting peacefully,” said Aleksandra Nowak.
Former Hamtramck City Councilmember Scott Klein, who was behind a proposed human rights city ordinance, which included gay rights, that failed to gain voter support, also congratulated Aiyash.
“Let’s all thank Abe for his leadership and yes vote on this issue,” Klein said.
The Review asked Aiyash for his comment on the amendment, and he said:
“We had a productive week in Lansing. We eliminated the third grade reading law that held kids back through punitive measures for not meeting literacy standards; restored worker protections and the prevailing wage law; amended the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act; and passed historic universal background check laws for gun purchases.
“As we head into the second quarter of the year, I’m looking forward to securing millions of dollars for Hamtramck during our budget negotiations in Lansing.”
Asked specifically about some of the pushback on his support of providing LGBTQ civil rights protection, he did not respond.
(Rep. Aiyash will host a “Coffee Hour” this Saturday, March 18, 10-11:30 a.m., at Dose of Sugar, located at 3630 Caniff. The event is being billed as “an opportunity for discussions and questions,” and the public is welcome to attend.)
Posted March 17, 2023