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Auchter's Art: Moving our country forward, one step at a time

John Auchter
Michigan Radio

It may seem a little odd, but this started out as a Memorial Day cartoon. Late last year, a former neighbor passed away. He was in his mid-90s and a well-decorated World War II vet. He never talked about the medals and rarely about the experience, except to explain the significant scar on his left bicep from a sniper's bullet.

(He told me once that he felt obligated to explain his arm if somebody's eyes got stuck on it — he didn't want people to worry about him.)

On Memorial Day mornings, we would walk out to the city cemetery behind our houses to gather with the entire community to honor our soldiers, sing with the marching band, and listen to the presentations. It always made me feel connected (especially with him there) to our country. All sorts of people have come together to make America what it is. Some who fought, some who died, some who lived on and made it a better place. Out of many, one. E pluribus unum.

The cartoon made a pivot last week when the Michigan Civil Rights Commission approved a statement to legally interpret an existing law (the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act) that bans discrimination based on sex to also mean sexual orientation and gender identity. There was immediate pushback from state Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake. He says the commission is "outside their rails on what they're authorized to do," and he's not wrong. But that's kind of the point.

The statement will allow the Department of Civil Rights to accept discrimination complaints from the LGBT community and move the process along so laws can be amended and courts can make rulings. It's an audacious move, but not out of line for a country based on audacious moves to fight injustices. Some will have to fight, some will fail, and some will move our country forward to make it a better place. E pluribus unum.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
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