As family law attorney, I am proud to say that my colleagues and I have a wide ranging set of concerns about the well-being of families and individuals in our communities. We are not only focused on divorce, custody and parenting time, alimony and child support, paternity, etc. We share a common concern for the legal rights of all individuals, whether it be in the context of laws protecting the rights of individuals to marry whomever they please, raise children regardless of gender orientation, or whether it is the safety of our streets for all of us to walk, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious practice, etc. Defending justice is dear to the hearts of all lawyers, and perhaps especially those of us engaged in domestic relations law practice.
That is why I was pleased when a colleague brought the Fair Michigan Justice Project to my attention. Fair Michigan is a non-profit Michigan corporation whose mission it is to end discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity. On July 12, 2016, Fair Michigan launched a new initiative called the Fair Michigan Justice Project. FMJP’s purpose will be to assist Michigan law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys in pursuing justice for victims of serious crimes committed against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy has appointed a special prosecutor and a special investigator from the Fair Michigan staff in an effort to deliver justice to the LGBTQ community. Historically, victims and witnesses to criminal sexual conduct and gender-based/sex-based hate crimes in the LGBTQ community are often fearful to come forward. LGBTQ community forums, contacts and discussions with member of the LGBTQ community by FMJP’s staff members have led to scheduling interviews to investigate serious crimes that have yet gone unsolved. Types of crimes that will be investigated and prosecuted range widely, from felony assault and felony firearm to homicide, criminal sexual conduct, carjacking, armed robbery and assault with intent to commit murder. In all cases, the victims are identified as member of the LGBTQ community, and were targeted based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
In addition to investigating and prosecuting these heinous hate crimes against LGBTQ persons, the Fair Michigan staff will be training police department staff as well as prosecuting attorney offices throughout the State of Michigan on means of effectively combatting hate crimes and how to better protect the LGBTQ community. There is also a trained therapist to assist crime victims in recovery from the trauma.
Throughout this post I have spoken about the LGBTQ community. In truth, however, persons who identify with the LGBTQ community are simply a subset of our larger community. We all share responsibility for our communities, large and small, and need to advocate for everyone’s safety and well-being. Wherever crimes can be committed without fear of being brought to justice, none of us is safe.
I am proud to have contributed to Fair Michigan Justice Project, and invite you to support this new initiative to ensure that all member of our community are safe from hate crimes. You can learn more about Fair Michigan Justice Project and how to donate at www.fairmichigan.org/fair-michigan-justice-project/