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Whitmer makes first appointments to newly established LGBTQ+ Commission


Whitmer makes first appointments to newly established LGBTQ+ Commission

Nov 30, 2023 | 7:06 pm ET
By Kyle Davidson
Whitmer makes first appointments to newly established LGBTQ Commission
Susan J. Demas

After issuing Executive Order 2023-5 in June to create Michigan’s LGBTQ+ Commission, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced the statewide commission’s first appointed members.

The commission was created to ensure representation for Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community at all levels of government, including its executive branch, according to a statement from the governor’s office. 

Whitmer makes first appointments to newly established LGBTQ Commission
Lawmakers pose with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer following her signing the ELCRA expansion for LGBTQ+ rights, March 16, 2023 | Laina G. Stebbins

Whitmer on Thursday announced 13 appointments to the board and the selection of the commission’s first administrator. The commission will act as an advisory body within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO). Appointed members chosen by the governor represent different facets of the LGBTQ+ community, including educators, medical professionals, tribal members and advocates. According to the governor’s office, the commission is structured to reflect the socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, cultural, gender identity, sexual orientation, occupational, political and geographic diversity of Michigan.

“As we face a National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans, Michigan has been a beacon of hope for equality under Governor Whitmer’s leadership,” Dakota Torolski, Michigan state director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.

“From including explicit protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protecting youth from the harmful practice of ‘conversion therapy’ Michigan is leading by example. Today, implementing the first-ever statewide LGBTQ+ commission is yet another stride toward making Michigan a more welcoming and prosperous place for all,” Torolski said. 

Raúl Hernández Guzmán, will serve as the commission’s first administrator. Guzmán holds a professional Strategic Human Resources Leadership certificate from Cornell University, a master’s of management from Aquinas College, and a bachelor’s of business administration in management and international business from Grand Valley State University, and volunteers his time in equity and service learning spaces, including leading medical students on a trip to Peru, where they offered services to a maternity clinic. 

“Originally from México and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Mr. Guzmán has wholeheartedly embraced West Michigan as his home for the past two decades. Through his multifaceted pursuits and personal interests, he consistently contributes to the vibrancy and inclusivity of the West Michigan community,” Whitmer’s statement reads. 

The appointed commissioners’ terms began on Nov. 30, 2023, and expire on Nov. 29, 2027.

Whitmer makes first appointments to newly established LGBTQ Commission
Equality Michigan Director Erin Knott at the announcement of non-discrimination legislation for LGBTQs, June 4, 2019 | Derek Robertson

Erin Knott, executive director of Equality Michigan — a nonprofit which works to educate and advocate to change Michigan laws and address issues that disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ people throughout the state — was appointed to the commission to represent LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations.

“I am humbled and honored to announce that I have been appointed to serve on Michigan’s first, historic LGBTQ+ Commission. … I am eager to work with my fellow commissioners to identify the needs of our community and ensure that our state continues to work towards LGBTQ+ equality and liberation,” Knott said in a statement.

“As we make Michigan more welcoming for LGBTQ+ people and our families, I am confident that more young people will choose to put down roots in this state that we all love,” Knott said.