TRAVERSE CITY — Mike Gillman couldn’t convince fellow Traverse City commissioners to block a local Indian tribe’s decision to give money to Planned Parenthood for abstinence-based sex education classes in area schools.
Gillman said he has “moral qualms” about abortion, and though the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians’ $12,551 grant to Planned Parenthood “allegedly” is for education, he said, the organization can do what it pleases with donated money. His anti-Planned Parenthood stance found no footing with the rest of the city commission.
“I’m totally in support of Planned Parenthood and the work they do, and I’m delighted that the tribe is giving them a grant,” said Commissioner Mary Ann Moore.
Twice each year the tribe distributes 2 percent of its casinos’ electronic gambling proceeds to local governments and nonprofit agencies. Nonprofit grants must first pass though a government agency for consideration. Gillman’s efforts to kill the grant echoed those of his son, Jason Gillman, who in December from his then-perch on the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners led a charge to thwart the Band’s Planned Parenthood grant.
“The organization is designed to kill babies,” Jason Gillman said at the time. “The nicer side of it is only there to mask its evil intent. That is to kill babies.”
Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan doesn’t provide abortion services, and the grant money is supposed to be used for school sex education programs that promote abstinence. But Mike Gillman said he believed “a vote in favor of this is a vote to support the activities of Planned Parenthood, something I don’t do.”
The Planned Parenthood grant was among four requests from the tribe on the city commission’s consent agenda, typically a grouping of noncontroversial items that commissioners approve with one vote. Mike Gillman pulled the Planned Parenthood grant from the consent agenda for a separate vote, prompting Commissioner Jeanine Easterday to remove the tribe’s $60,000 low income energy assistance grant for the Father Fred Foundation.
Commissioners approved the Planned Parenthood grant by a 5 to 1 vote. The Father Fred grant unanimously passed.
“I simply wanted to be sure, if we as a commission had elected not to approve the pass-through grant to Planned Parenthood, that should apply to Father Fred, as well,” Easterday said.
The board also accepted two other grants from the tribe worth $66,278 to fund equipment for the city police and fire departments.