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Former state representative switches parties before senate run

MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) A former state representative is switching parties.

On Friday Lorence Wenke announced that he is leaving the Republican party and will run for state senate in November as a Libertarian.

Wenke cited the partys discrimination against gay citizens and what he calls taxpayer abuse for the benefit of government employees as the reasons behind his decision.

Wenke sent the following statement to Newschannel 3;

Media Release from Lorence Wenke State Senate Candidate                                                         April 25, 2014

I am leaving the Republican Party for two reasons:

1. The Republican Party leads the movement in Kalamazoo County, our state, and in our nation to discriminate against our gay family members, friends and neighbors.
 
    
I support the constitutional right of our gay family members to enjoy the same rights as our heterosexual family members.  In 2004, I was one of three Republican legislators out of 63 to vote against the addition of the Marriage Protection Amendment to Michigans Constitution.  I was the only legislator to call it what it is - discrimination against our gay brothers and sisters.  At that time, three local Republican legislators with gay brothers never said a word in support of gay rights. I challenge them with this question: If you will not stand up for your own family members, who will you stand up for?
 
Governor Snyder and Lt. Gov. Calley are not willing to publically take a position for or against gay rights.  I can only assume it is because they fear the political consequences.
 
Republicans have encouraged many of our churches to support political efforts to discriminate against gays by condemning them for what they perceive as a sinful lifestyle choice. These same people often ignore the clear teachings of Jesus and Paul stating that remarriage after divorce is committing adultery.  If the church required divorced members to live a celibate, single life, there would be fewer divorces and presumably marriage would be protected and valued.
 
As majority floor leader in 2004, Republican Representative Chris Ward helped ensure the placement of the Marriage Protection Amendment on the ballot so that George W. Bush could be re-elected.  Recently Mr. Ward wrote, Looking back now, one of the things that bothers me the most about the whole episode was how dehumanizing it was.  It was just politics.  But it wasnt politics.  Those were people.  We Republicans singled out a whole group of people, most of whom just wanted to be left alone, to forcefully discriminate against them for short-term political benefits.   All around us were our friends, colleagues, family members, highly valued staff members and people we care about who this clearly was going to hurt.  Nobody seemed to think a thing of it.  My own particular purgatory is to be forever doomed to be on the wrong side of history.

2.    The Republican Party has abused taxpayer financially for the benefit of government employees
 
Most government employees have become an elite class of workers in Kalamazoo County, our state and
 In our nation with compensation packages far exceeding the private sector.  Although the statistics in support of this over-compensation are overwhelming, I will not go into detail except for one example.
 
The City of Kalamazoo and the County of Kalamazoo have very similar compensation plans for their employees.  For decades, Kalamazoo city commissioners have been mostly Democrats and Kalamazoo County commissioners have been mostly Republicans with a few notable exceptions.  Republicans John Vander Ploeg, Al Heilman and Mary Balkema were Kalamazoo city commissioners.  They said almost nothing about the generous compensation of city employees.

Republican small business owner, John Vander Ploeg, former Republican Party chairman, Al Heilman, and current Kalamazoo County Treasurer, Mary Balkema talk about good government but they are silent because there is a price to pay in business and on Election Day for anyone who opposes generous benefits for so many.
 

Most city and county employees can retire with 75% of their last pay check for life, as well as health care that is nearly free.  Recently, a city manager retired after 24 years of work with an annual pension of $110,000 for the rest of his life.  An assistant retired with an annual pension of $87,000.
 

This decision has been difficult.  I have been a Republican for many years and served as both a Kalamazoo county commissioner and state representative as a member of the Republican Party. Most Republicans are good citizens and good friends who are sincere in their desire to make our communities better places to live. Although, I am leaving the party, I hope to maintain the relationships that I have built within the party.

I welcome the support of anyone who values economic and social freedom. I believe citizens need a choice in elections for economic freedom and social freedom that we do not have now.  

In closing, I am leaving the Republican Party, including many who I consider to be friends, because of the suffering and injustice needlessly inflicted on our gay family members.   I consider it an honor to have anti-gay citizens vote against me because of my support for equal rights for our gay family members. I am leaving the Republican Party because our spending of taxpayer dollars has been immoral and is leading our country to bankruptcy.  I have joined the Libertarian Party and expect to be on the ballot in November as their Kalamazoo County Senate Candidate (20th District).