Our DMO of the Month Advances the March of Equality
President Barack Obama has declared 2014 a Year of Action. This initiative includes turning public focus to how towns and cities are leading the way on national issues. Municipalities are the laboratories where new policies are tested, and where local voices move forward despite national gridlock. In Michigan, cities are leading the way on technology, innovation, and equality. Recently, President Obama signed his historic Farm Bill in East Lansing, highlighting the crucial role Michigan communities play in feeding the nation. This month DMO joins the President in recognizing East Lansing. Meet Nathan Triplett, a mayor dedicated to the fight for equality, and our DMO of the Month for March.
East Lansing has long lead the nation in anti-discrimination efforts. In 1972, the city was the first in America to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In celebration of 40 years of non-discrimination, local officials from across the state have come together to champion civil equality. Not least among these is Mayor Triplett, who vocally supports LEAD (Local Electeds Against Discrimination) and similar LGBT non-discrimination efforts. Mayor Triplett also understands that full equality doesn’t stop at the right to marry. “In our state, and in 33 others, it’s perfectly legal to fire someone or to refuse to serve them solely because they are gay or transgender,” he wrote in a recent op-ed commenting on the startling lack of such legal protection. Nathan Triplett keeps his town’s history of equality alive, fighting to ensure civil rights for its citizens.
Recently a federal judge struck down the ban on same sex marriages in Michigan, and Mayor Triplett jumped into action. He worked with other local officials to marry dozens of couples, and personally performed five of the ceremonies. After an appeals court issued a stay on further marriages, the mayor co-wrote a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder asking for federal recognition of the weddings already performed. Attorney General Holder has confirmed that federal agencies will recognize the marriages. Unfortunately, Michigan's Republican Governor has stated that although the couples were legally wed, the state will not recognize their marriages. Undeterred, Mayor Triplett believes that groundswell from municipalities has the power to make changes at the state level. Municipal offices have a history of forging the path on social issues, and it is no surprise that Mayor Triplett and other local Democrats have outpaced statewide officials on enacting anti-discrimination policies.
Fairness, development, and enfranchisement are core values of Mayor Triplett’s governing style. For instance, he pushed for additional commissioners on the Board of Water and Light to ensure representation for all areas served by the utilities. He lobbied to keep the Department of Energy’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University after funding came into question. The facility is expected to create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of research positions. This January, Congress approved funding, and in March they broke ground on the site. Mayor Triplett also supported moving precinct boundaries to make voting easier for students at MSU. Where they had to walk over a mile to the nearest polling location, Triplett voted to ensure that every student at the university had the opportunity to cast their ballot on campus.
Though the Republican Governor has chosen to support the mistakes of the past, Nathan Triplett has decided to lead the way forward as a Michigan DMO. As the President has recognized, this Year of Action depends on the work of local Democrats to keep the country moving towards progress. Nathan Triplett is our DMO of the Month for March because of his earnest commitment to equal rights and enfranchisement. Whether it is marriage equality, access to voting, or quality jobs, Mayor Triplett is committed to providing fair opportunities in East Lansing. DMO applauds him on these efforts, and wishes him luck in his ongoing fight for marriage equality in Michigan.
Nathan Triplett was elected to the East Lansing City Council in 2007. In 2013 he was unanimously voted to the Mayor’s office by the rest of the Council. Nathan works as Director of Priorities Michigan, and is a member of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees. He and his wife are members of the Edgewood United Church of Christ. Mayor Triplett also serves as the DMO Michigan State Chapter Chair.
To learn more about upcoming Michigan State Chapter Events, or getting involved in the Michigan state chapter, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for the monthly conference call. You can tweet Mayor Triplett @NathanTriplett.