Beth Bashert Papers

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Beth Bashert Papers

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Beth Bashert manuscript collection held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Beth Bashert is a local activist, identified with gay-lesbian issues in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She is an outspoken advocate for civil rights and as a campaign organizer, she has impacted local elections in Ypsilanti and other Michigan cities. The collection consists of organizational materials and topical files pertaining to her political and advocacy activities in Ypsilanti and at the state level.


Throughout her life, Beth Bashert has been involved in various local civil rights and political causes. In 1988, she participated in a rape awareness project, designed to highlight the incidence of rape in Ann Arbor. A group of women, who called themselves Survivors of Sexual Assault, painted “A Woman was raped here” on or nearby 300 sites in Ann Arbor. Other causes would follow. In 1996, she participated in the planning for a recreational center for the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender (GLBT) community to be called the Jane Addams Memorial Center. Although the Center never materialized, primarily for financial reasons, Bashert continued to fight for causes for importance to the GLBT community.

Bashert devoted much energy to Citizens for Community, a group which she co-chaired with Paul Heaton and which was initially organized in April 1997 to urge passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance in Ypsilanti. With essentially the same membership, a second organization - Campaign for Equality - began mobilizing support within the community for the proposed ordinance. Bashert co-chaired the CFE effort along with Lisa Zuber. CFE helped to identify and organize local support, raised the necessary funds, and engaged the support of other organizations. The Ypsilanti City Council passed the ordinance on December 16, 1997, but the issue did not rest there as the opposition sought to overturn the ordinance through a ballot referendum. On the ballot in both 1998 and 2001, Bashert and others successfully organized the campaign to defeat the proposals viewed by many as anti-gay initiatives.

Bashert had become an experienced campaigner, able to enlist stronger, statewide and nationwide support because of her work with Michigan Equality where she served as president from its founding in 1999 until mid-2002. Michigan Equality (ME) was, according to its mission statement, a statewide, political advocacy non-profit corporation dedicated to “building a broad base of support to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or non-conformance to gender stereotypes.” In 2001, Bashert served as ME board president. Here, she was instrumental in successfully organizing citizens in Michigan cities, particularly in Kalamazoo, Traverse City, and Huntington Woods, to pass city ordinances to include protection from discrimination based upon sexual orientation.

There were other issues of concern to Bashert. In 1998, she used her organizational skills with the Save Our Land, Save Our Future (SOLSOF) campaign that successfully mobilized voters in Washtenaw County for a yes vote on the Farm/Open Space Referendum. In Washtenaw County, Proposition 1, the Comprehensive Land Preservation Strategy, provided a funding mechanism for the purchase of development rights (PDF) from local farmers wanting to protect their farmland from development. Bashert served as campaign coordinator of this effort co-chaired by Keith Molin and Lana Pollack. From 1999 to 2001 Bashert was the regional organizer for the National Abortion and Reproductive rights Action League (NARAL), implementing its Choice for America project to identify pro-choice voters in Michigan.

Beth Bashert lives in Ypsilanti with her long-term partner, Lisa Bashert.

Please note:

Copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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