Michigan Ads in Red States Promote Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage
With its population dwindling, the state of Michigan has taken out ads trying to lure businesses to relocate from pro-life states, because Michigan is “on the right side of history” on abortion and same-sex marriage — an action critics call “ignorant” or “evil.”
The Michigan Economic Development Council (MEDC) targeted ads to six conservative states, touting the progressive stance of Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D). One of the ads entices people to move to Michigan and “enjoy your right to reproductive freedom,” a frequent euphemism for abortion-on-demand. Another shows a lesbian couple as the screen declares, “In Michigan, all are welcome.”
“Michigan is proud to protect your fundamental human freedoms. We’re a state that’s on the right side of history,” said MEDC in a Facebook post containing one of its pitches.
Whitmer said socially liberal policies might seem alluring to businesses, because “[p]eople want to create homes in places where they know that their leaders and laws align with their values,” rather than states that “ignite divisive culture wars that drive people out.”
MEDC highlighted abortion and same-sex marriage as tourist selling points, even as state lawmakers slashed funds for the state travel office, which has attracted visitors with its slogan “Pure Michigan.” Some found the decision to emphasize abortion while deemphasizing purity fitting.
“Using public resources to promote the death of innocent unborn babies is absolutely appalling,” said State Senator Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), who said the campaign represents “a new low. … It is ignorant at best and evil at worst.”
“These ads are a massive injustice to both taxpayers and the poor souls lost in abortion. These insensitive advertisements do not reflect the values of all Michiganders, and they won’t do anything to reverse the state’s declining population — in fact, it may have the exact opposite effect,” said Albert. “I call on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the MEDC to end this marketing campaign immediately.”
The meager $30,000 ad campaign ran in six pro-life states: Florida, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Politico has called Whitmer’s Michigan “the anti-Florida,” from its left-wing view on social issues to its harsh lockdown policies during COVID-19, while Governor Ron DeSantis (R) frequently boasts he presides over “the free state of Florida.”
The state needs businesses, and people, to return to the rustiest bolt in the Rust Belt. Whitmer appointed a 28-member Growing Michigan Together Council in June to study ways to stop and reverse the trend of people moving out of her state, after Michigan lost population in 2022 for the first time in a decade. “Our state has been stagnant for over 30 years in terms of population,” said the council’s chairman, former Ambassador John Rakolta.
“Births are plummeting and deaths are rising,” noted the publication — a situation unlikely to improve after largely out-of-state forces spent $57 million to pass Proposition 3, which placed a “right to reproductive access” in the state constitution with 57% of the vote last November. The measure essentially strikes down all state pro-life protections.
The state also lost between 5,600 and an estimated 8,700 senior citizens after Whitmer signed a controversial executive order during the COVID-19 pandemic that many credit with raising the death toll inside the state’s nursing homes.
Whitmer’s policies have also harmed residents who stayed behind, according to state-based publications. “The average resident driving on those roads is older, sicker and poorer than a decade ago,” noted Bridge Michigan. “Ohio is growing faster than Michigan. So is Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and every other state in the Midwest.”
MEDC spokesman Otie McKinley called the ads a “concerted effort to attract talent and business to Michigan by highlighting a business-friendly environment that also protects people’s rights and freedoms.” But some question how business-friendly the state is under its present administration.
In March, Michigan became the first state in 58 years to repeal right-to-work laws — a law that recognizes workers’ freedom to work without being forced to join a labor union or pay union dues against their will. “We have had the ‘Open for Business’ sign out since 2012,” said former Governor Rick Snyder. “The repeal is likely to be viewed by the larger business world as Michigan turning the sign back to ‘Closed.’”
“There’s a reason [businesses] are moving to other states. And her pro-union agenda will only scare businesses away,” said Ingrid Jacques, who formerly worked on the editorial page of the Detroit News.
Some critics noted that Michigan ranks 49th out of the 50 states for population growth since 2000, according to Census data, placing it ahead of only West Virginia. Georgia, on the other hand, came in 11th.
Actually, it is worse than that, said Whitmer’s council. “We are 50th out of [the] states and Washington, D.C. in terms of population growth,” said Rakolta, “and that has to change.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.