By Michigan Progressive Staff
While much of the attention during Michigan’s 2018 election will be focused at the gubernatorial level, the race for the state’s Attorney General position is of critical importance. Bill Schuette is term-limited for the office and is currently running for governor. Two candidates so far have announced on the Democratic side. Dana Nessel, the attorney on the DeBoer case that won the right for same-sex couples to adopt at the US Supreme Court (and was bundled in with several other cases that won marriage equality), has already garnered significant support from the party’s progressive base. Patrick Miles is also running for the position. Miles, a corporate lawyer and former federal prosecutor from the west side of the state, has picked up some support from more establishment players like former MDP Chair Lon Johnson and former Congressman John Conyers.
Miles has come under heavy scrutiny over the past several months for his work as a corporate attorney representing clients with bad records on labor issues. His stance on LGBTQ issues has also raised red flags with many in the progressive community. In 2010, Miles ran for Congress against Justin Amash and publicly opposed same-sex marriage. In a questionnaire he filled out during the race, he stated he viewed marriage as “the union of a man and a woman.”
He has since changed his position on same-sex marriage and now supports it. It’s convenient, considering that same-sex marriage has been the law of the land since 2015.
Unfortunately, Miles’ anti-LGBTQ record and affiliations are not a one-off. In a recent article comparing the Democratic candidates for Attorney General, Between the Lines asked “…how his past – intertwined with homophobic religious affiliations – has informed where he is today?” For example, during his congressional run in 2010, Miles touted his ties to a church in Kentwood.
A further look at Miles shows a personal history replete with people and places that openly discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community. His family founded a church in the Grand Rapids area which hired a pastor who peddles anti-gay rhetoric.
Facebook screenshots from Miles on Grand Rapids Christian Church and its Pastor Rick Lippert:
And in 2008, while serving as Chairman of the Aquinas College Board of Trustees, the school rescinded a speaking invitation to a gay-rights advocate. Miles supported the decision, stating the decision was “consistent with college and board policy.”
This passivity is a common theme for Miles on many issues. Rather than taking a stand, Miles often demures, or states his personal beliefs will not interfere with his public position. This is especially problematic for positions like Attorney General, where decisions often require a judgement call or the use of discretion. If we don’t know where a candidate really stands, how do we know how they will really act? Case in point: During his tenure as a federal prosecutor, Miles did not prosecute a single hate crimes case, but sent several people to prison on medical marijuana charges.
There is no primary for the Attorney General’s position in Michigan. Democrats will be voting to endorse a candidate at the Party’s endorsement convention on April 15th. In the months leading up to the convention, party members should do their research and thoroughly vet candidates like Miles who claim to be “progressive.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that “he [Miles] and his sister founded a church in Grand Rapids.” The church was founded by his family members.
Correction: The article has been updated to clarify how the Deboer case on adoption was bundled in with several other cases that ultimately won the right for same-sex couples to marry in 2015.