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Theis invocation prompts Senators to walk out

Sen. Theis gives invocation 4-13-22 / Screenshot

The invocation given by a local lawmaker caused at least two state senators to walk out of Wednesday’s session of the Michigan Senate.

According to Michigan Advance, State Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) appeared to reference Republicans’ national push to crack down on teachings and books that reference LGBTQ+ issues and America’s history of white supremacy.

“Dear Lord, across the country we’re seeing in the news that our children are under attack. That there are forces that desire things for them other than what their parents would have them see and hear and know. Dear Lord, I pray for Your guidance in this chamber to protect the most vulnerable among us,” Theis said.

After the incident, State Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) tweeted; “The ‘forces’ are, of course, public school teachers, and the ‘things’ are the LGBTQ community. To pervert the Senate Invocation in this way is beyond the pale.”

Theis did not respond to a request for comment from Michigan Advance.

Polehanki further suggested that the comment from Theis, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, referenced legislation likely to be intro in the Michigan Legislature modeled on the Florida measure known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The controversial Florida bill allows parents to sue school districts if their child is exposed to instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity deemed to not be “age-appropriate.”

At least one GOP candidate for the Michigan House, Jon Rocha, plans to introduce legislation modeled on the Florida measure if elected. Rocha has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Joining Sen. Polehanki In walking out of the chamber to protest Theis’ invocation was State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), although both legislators said they were joined by other colleagues

McMorrow tweeted; “Without sharing or repeating closed-minded harmful words from a sitting Senator under the guise of a ‘prayer,’ to every child in Michigan – you are perfect and welcome and loved for being exactly who you are.”

Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled Senate on Thursday rejected two more of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s appointees; Michael Ryan to the Ferris State University board and former state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) to the Western Michigan University board.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) noted that Hoadley is gay. He also noted that the Senate has not taken any action against Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), who pleaded guilty in February to assaulting a nurse. 

Ananich said he will introduce a resolution to censure Bizon.

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