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Stevens replaces stolen Pride flag in Birmingham, calls for Equality Act passage

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Stevens replaces stolen Pride flag in Birmingham, calls for Equality Act passage

Sep 08, 2023 | 9:45 am ET
By Ken Coleman
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Stevens replaces stolen Pride flag in Birmingham, calls for Equality Act passage
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U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham) presented local business owner James Cristbrook of Shain Park Realtors with a new Pride flag to replace the Pride flag insignia that had been stolen from his business’s window twice in June. | Stevens office photo

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Twp.) this week presented local business owner James Cristbrook of Shain Park Realtors with a new Pride flag to replace the one that he said had been stolen from his business window twice during Pride month in June. 

Stevens also called for the passage of the Equality Act, which would expand civil rights law to protect LGBTQ+ individuals. She has voted for the legislation in previous sessions, but the GOP-controlled U.S. House has not taken up pro-LGBTQ+ legislation.

“Ending discrimination, starts with calling out acts of bigotry,” said Stevens on Tuesday. “LGBTQI+ people are a part of all our communities – they own businesses, serve as police officers and firefighters, and so much more. Having a local business leader like James, stand up and say, enough is enough is an important part of changing people’s hearts and minds. 

“As a member of Congress, my job is to change the law, and I’m going to keep fighting to do that and pass the Equality Act so that the rights of LGBTQI+ people are protected as the law of the land,” Stevens added. 

Cristbrook praised and thanked Stevens. 

Stevens replaces stolen Pride flag in Birmingham, calls for Equality Act passage
U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham) presented
local business owner James Cristbrook of Shain Park Realtors with a new Pride flag to replace
the Pride flag insignia that had been stolen from his business’s window twice in June. | Stevens office photo

“We’re so honored and pleased to have one of the leaders in our federal government [here] who has supported the Equality Act,” said Cristbrook. “We love Birmingham, this is our hometown, born and bred here, and we’ve always found it a welcoming community. It wasn’t until this June that we realized that there are some folks in our community that don’t appreciate the equality, love and the peace that should be for everybody here. … It really speaks volumes about where we are right now in our country, and I’m so grateful to people like the Congresswoman who are supporting us and brought us a beautiful new flag.”

Local police are investigating the theft of the Pride flags at Cristbrook’s business.

The number of hate crimes has risen across the United States in recent years. Michigan’s numbers have fluctuated but largely increased over the past 10 years, going from 410 hate crime incidents reported in 2011 to 610 hate crime incidents a decade later in 2021, the most recent year for which there is data available from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. In 2020, there were 556 hate crime incidents reported in Michigan, which was a drop from the 630 hate crime incidents reported in 2019.

Democratic lawmakers in Michigan are currently working to expand the state’s hate crime laws so they include protections for several categories missing from the current statutes, including sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, physical or mental disability, ethnicity and age.