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Michigan Dems Accuse GOP of Blocking Trustee for Being Gay

April 19, 2022

Michigan Democrats are accusing their Republican counterparts in the State Senate of blocking an appointment to the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees because the nominee is gay.

Jon Hoadley, a former state representative, was appointed to the board in February and sworn in March 17. But last week, when it came time to approve his appointment, the GOP-led State Senate declined. Republicans claim the nominee’s status as a graduate student is a conflict of interest.

Democrats, however, have suggested ulterior motives, with one state lawmaker pointing to a 1999 opinion from a former attorney general arguing that students can serve on college governing boards.

Hoadley was one of two trustees voted down by the Senate on Thursday. The other, Michael Ryan, was denied confirmation of his appointment to serve at Ferris State University, where he was previously a professor. Republicans cited Ryan’s contentious history with the board, according to a report from Michigan Live. In their denials, Republicans said that Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer had failed to identify quality candidates to serve on the WMU and Ferris State boards.

Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel tweeted Thursday that state Republicans have “declared open warfare on LGBTQ people” and argued that Hoadley “is more than qualified for this position.”

The Western Michigan chapter of the American Association of University Professors said in a statement released Friday that the Republican block of Hoadley’s appointment “adds to a growing wave of noxious anti-LGBTQ backlash that threatens to take our country backward” and emphasized the importance of including “diverse views and perspectives in higher education leadership.”

Hoadley expressed his disappointment via Twitter: “This action, taken without even a hearing, is counter to the spirit of open debate and study that is a hallmark for higher education institutions.”

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