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LGBT activists and allies joined Robert Ficano, center, as he signed an executive order extending employment protections to LGBT employees of Wayne County. From left: Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan; Summer Foster, field organizer at Equality Michigan; Jamiil Gaston, development coordinator at KICK; Kary Moss, executive director of the Michigan ACLU; Mark Erwin, director of community development at the Ruth Ellis Center; Jeff Montgomery, former executive director of the Triangle Foundation; Tim Cordes, president of Stonewall Bar Association; Ficano and a Wayne county staff member; Curtis Lipscomb, executive director of KICK; Wayne county staff member; Angela Stevenson, director resource management and planning division at Wayne County department of Technology; John Allen, attorney and co-founder of Ruth Ellis Center; Fred Hoffman, attorney at Clark Hill and Associates; Jay Kaplan, LGBT legal project staff attorney at the Michigan ACLU; and Ralph Simpson, former president of the Michigan ACLU.
DETROIT – Surrounded by LGBT activists and allies, Wayne County executive Robert Ficano signed an executive order at a press conference Feb. 19 adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the county’s employment non-discrimination policy. Wayne is the largest county in Michigan to extend employment protections, and joins Washtenaw and Ingham counties as the third county in the state to extend employment protections to LGBT people. Ficano’s executive order applies to all 3,051 employees of Wayne County.
“This order reaffirms our commitment to diversity of the workplace,” said Ficano. “Sexual orientation and gender identity have nothing to do with someone’s job performance. I am aware of the civil rights struggles of LGBT people around the country and here in Michigan. Progress is slow, but that doesn’t mean we have to be slow in Wayne County.”
“This is a historic moment for Wayne County,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the Michigan ACLU. “Michigan has a ways to go, but with leaders like Robert Ficano we will see progress.”
Ficano also called upon the state legislature to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. “As an employer, it is essential that we ensure there’s room for all in our workforce,” said Ficano.
“Until we have full protections at the state level, discrimination will continue against LGBT people in Michigan,” said Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan. “This is a standard being set, and we appreciate this huge step in Wayne County.”
“Thank you for making my county a welcoming and safe place for LGBT people,” said Curtis Lipscomb, executive director of KICK.
The executive order has immediate effect.