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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will always 'fight like hell' to protect LGBTQ+ rights (exclusive)

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The governor of Michigan tells The Advocate about her efforts to defend vital LGBTQ+ services, and warns about the dangers of a second Trump term.

To Gretchen Whitmer, Pride isn't just a celebration — it's also a reminder.

The governor of Michigan, who is a Democrat, has made several strides towards ensuring LGBTQ+ equality during her six years in office, from outlawing conversion therapy on minors, to amending the state's civil rights act to include gender and sexual orientation. Before attending Detroit's annual Motor City Pride festival over the weekend, Whitmer reflected on just how far her state has come.

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"I always love going to Pride events. They are some of the happiest, most inclusive, and most fun events there are, and I'm really proud that we've come a long way in Michigan," Whitmer told The Advocate. "There's always more good work to do, but we've made great strides. ... That's why it's always important to show up, to show my support, and to work together to make sure we continue to make Michigan a good place for all people."

Michigan became the last state to decriminalize paid surrogacy in April when Whitmer signed into law a package of bills, which also expanded protections for in vitro fertilization (IVF). The family planning services, widely used by LGBTQ+ couples, have recently faced threats across the country as Republican legislators seek to limit or outright ban the options.

To Whitmer, the recent proposals to prohibit IVF are no different from restrictions on abortion, gender-affirming care, or marriage equality. It's one message she wishes to emphasize as Americans celebrate Pride across the country: Never take these rights for granted.

"We know that any right that is conferred by substantive due process — which includes the right to marry whoever you want, the right to make your own decisions about your body, the right to grow your family in any means that you choose — is all very much at risk here," she said. "That's why I thought it was important for us in Michigan to really show the world that these are rights that we are going to fight like hell to protect."

Whitmer also wants voters to take that message to heart as the November presidential election approaches, especially those who may be feeling frustration with the current administration. She said that "while perhaps there are differences around policy and some areas with regard to [President Joe Biden], it is also worth knowing that we are a lot closer to realizing the things that we all share, the things that we all value, with a second Biden-Harris presidency."

"There's never a party that perfectly aligns with every individual's needs, but the Democratic Party is the party that has enshrined women's reproductive rights in the state, our ability to access healthcare, and to grow families in any way that we choose," she continued. "We have protected our voting rights, the rights of the LGBTQ community, and fundamental civil rights. All of this is very much at risk."

Conversely, former president Donald Trump has "eroded some of these fundamental rights," particularly through his Supreme Court appointees, Whitmer said, adding that "a second term would be devastating to the things that we hold dear."

"People have got to get out and vote. So much is at risk," she emphasized.

With two years left in her second gubernatorial term, Whitmer said that she doesn't know what the future has in store for her career. For now, she'll be celebrating at the state's largest Pride festival, and will "stay focused on delivering for the people of Michigan every minute I'm governor."

"We've done an incredible amount just in the last 18 months," she said. "I'm excited at the prospect of what we can continue to do while I'm governor, and my goal is to hand over the state of Michigan to whomever succeeds me in a strong position as I can be in."

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.