In light of the recent reporting by Between The Lines, a trusted LGBTQ+ magazine, the OutCenter presents the following statement:

The OutCenter of Southwest Michigan has long been actively working to create a Southwest Michigan that is free from homophobia, including homophobic violence, words, and actions. We expect those elected to higher office to carry the torch in regards to the work that we have started across the tri-county area (Van Buren, Cass, and Berrien counties). Part of carrying this torch is expressing dignity and respect to all, including those that you disagree or are actively in competition with.

The use of attacks against minorities for political gain only permits those represented to dislike those minorities and in time, leads to an increase of violence against said minority. We estimate that there are about 11,000 LGBTQ+ citizens in Southwest Michigan, and they deserve to feel safe and welcomed in our area. It is not only on the OutCenter to create this safe environment, but also on those elected to represent the area on all levels. We expect more out of those who are both role models and those in a position to make inclusion and acceptance into codified law.

We have seen the massive growth of protections for LGBTQ individuals in the United States by the Supreme Court, legislature, and in Michigan. We expect that those representing us would continue on the path towards equality and acceptance.

We know that there is a great deal more work to be done and we implore all elected officials, local, state, and federal, to join us.

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