A Saginaw, MI city councilman expressed his reluctance to sign a citywide nondiscrimination ordinance by comparing the LGBT rights movement to the nascent Nazi party in early 1930s Germany.
Michigan Live reported that Councilman Dan Fitzpatrick made the offensive remarks at a city council meeting on Tuesday.
The city council voted 9-to-0 on Tuesday morning to reject a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing, employment and other issues. Fitzpatrick explained his objection to the measure to the council and assembled public.
“Most people know my position,” he said. “What I’m totally amazed at is a number of people I’ve talked to or heard from say, ‘Come on, just pass this thing. Find out what it means later.'”
“Well how does that sound?” continued Fitzpatrick. “Doesn’t matter; if it’s bad, fix it. Fix it later. It’s going to happen eventually; just get with it. Be progressive. In about 1933 there was a real big youth movement in Germany called the party of national socialists. A lot of people said, ‘You know, I don’t like them. I don’t know; I don’t understand. But man they’re good for business.'”
Councilwoman Annie Boensch, the bill’s sponsor, responded, “If we are trying to engage in sincere dialog, writing off your constituents as Nazis is sickening. It’s not an acceptable comparison to anything.”
She continued, “Hitler exterminated the Jews and gays right along with them. We’re talking about the genocide of human beings. These people rounded up human beings and slaughtered them; this is not the same. It’s completely a dangerous line to tread. We’re trying to make sure people have equal access to grocery stores and pharmacies and restaurants. We’re trying to preserve the dignity of people that aren’t recognized under the law.”
“I wasn’t comparing them with the Nazis,” Fitzgerald protested. “Just the idea that just because something comes from the youth community, or a small subculture of youth or a subculture of our community, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good…I’m not saying they’re Nazis. I will say that sometimes these tactics smack of it. The similar kinds of things that the German youth movement did. That everything old is bad and everything new is good.”
Charin Davenport, a trans woman and local college professor, said that for Fitzpatrick to make such a comparison was “despicable” and “disgusting.”
Brandon Errer, a gay Saginaw Valley State University student who attended Tuesday’s meeting said, “I’ve never been equated to a Nazi before. It was disheartening.”
Fitzpatrick went on to say that he’s not a bigot, he just believes that these kind of issues have no place in the council’s business.
“I’m not against them,” he said. “I’m very sympathetic, I’m compassionate, but I’m there to do a very different job. This is a partisan issue that doesn’t belong in a nonpartisan body.”
“I will never vote for this, ever,” Fitzpatrick went on. “No matter how many amendments you put in here. Because sexual mores — your choice of what you do behind closed doors — has nothing to do with being a good citizen. It has nothing to do with the city of Saginaw. It has nothing to do with what we’re charged here at this Council to do. Shame, shame on you.”