Detroit earns highest ranking in national LGBTQ equality index rating

Detroit has long been known as tough and gritty, which is sometimes a plus and other times not so much. But what many Detroiters know that too many outsiders don’t (until they come here) is that Detroit has a heart. A big one. And it is much more compassionate and accepting than it often gets credit for…

But like so much else around here these days, that hard-as-nails image is beginning to experience a do-over.

For the first time, the City of Detroit was given a perfect score today (Thursday, December 16) for its LGBTQ policies and services by the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. It is one of only two cities in the state of Michigan to receive such a rating this year.

The MEI looked at 408 cities across the country and evaluated them based on their nondiscriminatory laws and ordinances; how the city treats its LGBTQ employees; how the city ensures that the LGBTQ community is included in city services and programs; relationship with law enforcement; and the city’s relationship with the LGBTQ community and its advocacy for equality.

Mayor Mike Duggan has publicly advocated for issues such as marriage equality and has directed his appointees and city leaders to institute policies that are inclusive and supportive of Detroit’s many LGBTQ employees and citizens.

“Detroit is a welcoming city, where opportunity is available for everyone,” said Duggan. “We will continue to expand our policies and strengthen our connection with the LGBTQ community to build a stronger city that all of us are proud to call home.”

Detroit was among the MEI’s 31 “All-Star Cities” – those that are said to be paving the way on LGBTQ equality in states that still lack fully inclusive LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws. The only other city in the state of Michigan to receive a score of 100 out of 100 was East Lansing.

“The board and staff of the Ruth Ellis Center congratulate the City of Detroit in achieving the highest rating in serving the LGBTQ community,” said Jerry Patterson, executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park, which provides services to homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth. “We are grateful for a wide range of partnerships, including the City of Detroit. There is still much work to do, but it is wonderful to see this acknowledgment of progress.”

The following highlights reflect only a few of the city’s recent efforts as they relate to the MEI:

  • The Detroit City Council has passed a number of ordinances strengthening non-discrimination protections in the City Code. Sec. 27-1-1 gives the City’s Human Rights Department the authority to eliminate and prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and to take actions that secure the equal protection of civil rights. Sec. 27-3-1 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in all City employment practices, including hiring, promotion, and training. Sec. 27-3-2 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all city contracts with outside contractors. Sec. 27-8-1 of the Detroit City Code recognizes the rights of and confers benefits to non-married domestic partners among City employees, elected officials, and appointees.
  • The Detroit Police Department appointed Detroit Police Officer Danni Woods as its first LGBTQ liaison for the department. Officer Woods works in partnership with law enforcement and LGBTQ community-based organizations. The liaison also assists Investigative Operation Units concerning crimes against members of the LGBTQ community and serves as a resource for victims of such crimes. Officer Woods also has an interactive and continuous role in police training and cultural competency regarding the LGBTQ community.
  • All appointees, managers, and supervisors are required to attend training classes on the City’s non-discrimination policy and guidelines, including non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • The Mayor designated Brad Dick, Director of the General Services Department, and Roland Liggett, a commissioner on Detroit’s Board of Human Rights/Ethics as LGBTQ liaisons for the City.
  • City leaders have committed to create an LGBTQ advisory board that would meet monthly to discuss local issues affecting Detroit’s LGBTQ community.
  • Upon taking office, Mayor Duggan issued an executive order that clarifies and strengthens the City’s employment practices regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.


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