A Michigan lawmaker is leaving the Republican Party and will run for election as a Libertarian, due to his differences with the Republican view on marriage equality.
Former state representative Lorence Wenke said the party's discrimination against LGBT people, in addition to what he called "taxpayer abuse," is driving him away from his party. Wenke was one of only two Republican state legislators to oppose the 2004 constitutional amendment barring same-sex couples from marrying.
"I was the only legislator to call it what it is — discrimination against our gay brothers and sisters," he wrote in his statement last Friday, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. "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 also called out Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who have not taken any public position regarding marriage equality.
In 2010, Wenke was defeated in the Republican primary for the 20th District State Senate seat after serving in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2002 to 2008. Had he remained a member of the Republican Party, Wenke would face Rep. Margaret O'Brien in a primary for the Senate position in August. The seat is currently up for grabs now that redistricting has led the former senator, Tonya Schuitmaker, to seek reelection in the new 26th District.