First Gay Rights Legislation

The River of Pride Beaumont Tower at Michigan State University

The first gay rights legislation enacted in America: March 7, 1972, the East Lansing, Michigan, city council approved by a vote of 4-to-1 an act declaring the city must seek to “employ the best applicant for each vacancy on the basis of his [sic] qualifications for the job and without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, sex or homosexuality.”

July 1972, the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan – home to University of Michigan – would take East Lansing’s measure one step further, prohibiting discrimination against gays not only in employment, but housing and public accommodations as well – becoming the first community-wide gay rights legislation in the nation. Ann Arbor’s act was spurred by the election to the city council in 1972 of Jerry DeGrieck and Nancy Wechsler, who had run on the Human Rights Party ticket. Both would come out as gay in 1973.

Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck simultaneously became the first openly lesbian and openly gay elected officials in America. They both graduated from the University of Michigan. They were elected to the Ann Arbor City Council in 1972 as members of the Human Rights Party. They came out in at a City Council meeting in October 1973 when the Chief of Police was in attendance. An anti-gay attack at a local bar had occurred the night before, which violated the recently passed Human Rights Ordinance, and they wanted to ask the Chief of Police why the Police who were called to the scene did not seem to be aware of the contents of the ordinance.

Unitarian Universalist Minister

The River of Pride Unitarian Universalist Minister

Rev. James Lewis Stoll, M.Div. (January 18, 1936 – December 8, 1994), a Unitarian Universalist minister, in 1969 is the first ordained minister of an established denomination to come out as gay. He leads the effort that convinced the Unitarian Universalist Association to pass their first-ever gay rights resolution in 1970.

One Magazine

The River of Pride ONE Magazine

One Magazine publishes as the first gay men’s magazine in the United States in 1952. Founded in Los Angeles, it would later transform into an education institution and then into The One Archives, one of the worlds largest and oldest surviving LGBT archives. (see ONE, Inc. )

We’re not alone!

The River of Pride Flag

7.3 percent of people born between 1980 and 1998 who now identify as
LGBTQQIP2SAA+—up from 5.8 percent in 2012. (This new data reinforces a 2015 conclusion from the Public Religion Research Institute that “7 percent of millennials identify either as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” based on a survey of 2,000 adults.) It’s uncertain if this data take in account for the 2.7% of millennials who identify as genderqueer, gender-fluid or unsure of their gender identification.