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Wednesday, August 20,2014

LGBTQ Milestones in the Capital City

by Todd Heywood
1972 – East Lansing is the first municipality in the nation to adopt a non-discrimination ordinance protecting people based on sexual orientation.

1974 – Lesbian Connections magazine begins publication every two months.

1979 – The first meeting of the Lansing Association for Human Rights is held. At first, the local LGBTQ organization was a loose confederation of community members gathered together in social solidarity.

1983 – First AIDS case diagnosed in Ingham County at Lansing General Hospital

1985 – The Lansing Area AIDS Network is formed by Doak Bloss, Maxine Thome, Suellen Hozman, Tom McQuire, Beth Schiably and others.

1986 – 42 local gay men are arrested in a sting operation at the Holt Rest Area. Police, prosecutors and media coordinate to release the names and identities of the men.

1989 – Greater Lansing Gay Men’s Chorus is founded; Michigan Pride March and Festival begins 1990 – Offices of Lesbian Connections magazine catch fire 1990 – Greater Lansing Gay Men’s Chorus is kicked out of River Terrace Church.

1990 – MSU adopts non-discrimination policy which includes sexual orientation.

1992 – Lansing Community College becomes second community college in the state to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

1992 – M. Kate Murphy becomes first openly gay person appointed to a Michigan community college board at LCC.

1993 – Following the election of David Hollister as mayor, Lansing Police Chief Mark Alley personally apologizes for past arrests and targeting of the LGBTQ community.

1994 - Lansing’s first, and only, LGBT community book store — The Real World Emporium — officially opens for business in Lansing’s Old Town.

1995 – Chris Swope runs as an openly gay candidate for the Lansing City Council in the First Ward. He loses the election to Harold Leeman Jr.

1996 – Lansing City Council approves a comprehensive human rights ordinance 1996 – Beloved Lansing State Journal sports writer Bob Gross found murdered in his downtown home. His body was mutilated and his home was set on fire. Gross’ murder is one of several high profile murders of gay men that year.

1996 – Citizens opposed to LGBTQ equality gather enough signatures to place the recently adopted human right ordi nance on the November ballot. Lansing City Council subsequently approves two ballot measures related to the ordinance.

1996 – Citizens of Lansing reject the comprehensive human rights ordinance in a referendum.

1997 – Robert Durfee goes on trial for the murder of Bob Gross. Mainstream media finally report that Gross was allegedly murdered because he was gay.

1997 – Rachel Crandall starts Transgender Michigan, an equality and education organization dedicated to transgender equality.

1997 – MSU Board of Trustees adopt domestic partner benefits over the opposition of President M. Peter McPherson.

2000 – Chris Swope runs for, and is elected, to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. He becomes the first openly gay elected official on the board.

2001 – Todd Heywood is elected to the LCC board, becoming the first openly gay male elected to a community college board in Michigan.

2002 – LCC becomes the first community college in Michigan to offer domestic partner benefits to employees.

2003 – Melissa Sue Robinson becomes the first out transgender woman to run for elective office in Lansing. She seeks election to the post of mayor.

2004 – A young gay man is brutally attacked at Lansing Eastern High School. The beating of the young black man leaves him in a medically induced coma for a time.

2004 – Michigan voters approve an amendment to the Michigan Constitution defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Ingham County is one of only two counties to vote the amendment down.

2005 – Chris Swope is elected Lansing  city clerk.

2005 – Kathie Dunbar is elected to the Lansing City Council, becoming the first openly bisexual elected city official.

2006 – Lansing adopts a comprehensive human rights ordinance. While there was some opposition to the law, opponents were unable to put the law on the ballot.

2007 – Dr. Julie Nemecek’s firing from Spring Arbor University because she was transgender leads LCC to apply its nondiscrimination policy to partnerships, including Spring Arbor. Spring Arbor bows out.

2009 – Two gay men are arrested in Fenner Nature Center. Lansing officials released the HIV status of one of the men arrested — resulting in the city adopting more stringent Freedom of Information Act policies.

2013 - Delta, Delhi and Meridian townships all adopt comprehensive human rights ordinance.

March 2014 – Same-sex marriage in Michigan was ruled legal by the U.S. District Court for Michiganīs Eastern District. The first gay marriage in the state was performed March 22 by Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum. More than 300 same-sex couples were married that day but a stay was issued late that same day. A federal appeals court stayed the ruling indefinitely March 25.

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