In these times of tumult and political unrest, Nessel & Kessel remains steadfast in its commitment to defending the rights of all citizens but particularly those who identify as part of the often marginalized LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersexual, asexual) community. There was no greater honor for our Detroit family law firm than to have represented April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse in a suit to protect the sanctity of their family; we went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States!
But DeBoer and Rowse were not the first, and haven’t been the last Michiganders to seek legal counsel and advice from Chris Kessel and Dana Nessel regarding issues concerning life, love, family, and civil rights.
LGBTQIA advocate Dana Nessel & Fair Michigan selected to help combat hate crimes in Detroit.
Fair Michigan — a nonprofit led by Dana Nessel that proclaims to “create a Michigan where the presence and contributions of everyone are welcomed and celebrated regardless of their gender, gender identity, sex, or sexual orientation” — was approached by Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy to address a growing problem in the region. “I noticed a national trend, ticking upward, of people being killed because of their sexual orientation,” said Worthy in a statement.
The group led by Nessel has taken up an initiative, appointing an investigator and a special prosecutor to work in conjunction with the Wayne County judicial system, to solve and prosecute especially heinous crimes committed against the LGBTQIA community.
Nessel was recently featured in the Detroit Jewish News for these very same efforts, highlighting the successes on behalf of civil justice in Michigan.
The following content was originally published on January 18, 2017.
So far, there have been five convictions, with five more pending, plus two criminal sexual conduct cases that include a serial rapist who had been targeting victims inside and outside the LGBTQ community.
“You stem the violence by successfully prosecuting [the perpetrators],” Nessel said. “It sends a message. I know this is a way to stem the violence, make the community safer.”
FMJP’s special prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz, a former assistant prosecutor, and special investigator Vicki Yost, a former Inkster police chief and deputy chief for the Detroit Police Department, work in conjunction with Worthy and her staff to bring about justice by charging and convicting the perpetrators of these violent crimes, especially those cases where victims or witnesses were previously afraid to come forward.
“People who would never have called the police are coming to us,” said Nessel, who serves as president of the organization in addition to being a partner in the Downtown Detroit firm of Nessel & Kessel Law. “I give great credit to Kym Worthy. I don’t know anywhere else in the country with a task force for this.”
Members of the LGBT community have often found themselves the targets of crime. Unfortunately, with the advent of technology, the range of these crimes has significantly broadened. Recently, a number of gay men have become the focus of a blackmail scam.
These men would meet other gay men online and then engaged in consensual sexual acts. However, almost immediately afterwards, these men would be contacted by a third party who would tell them that the person with whom they just engaged in consensual sexual acts with was a minor. In Michigan, statutory rape is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The third party would then tell these men that he would report them unless they paid him off. Sometimes the payment was a few hundred dollars, but in other instances the payment would be upwards of $70,000.00.
Many of these men contacted Dana Nessel, of Nessel and Kessel Law and founder of Fair Michigan, a nationally known civil rights attorney. Ms. Nessel advised these men to contact the police because it was clear that they had been targeted by a scam artist. Thankfully some of the men did and one man has been taken into custody.
Here is a link to a story done by Channel 7 WXYZ, in which Michigan LGBT attorney Dana Nessel spoke about the matter.
This week, civil rights attorney and activist Dana Nessel and her organization, Fair Michigan, has helped take another step forward in the battle for protection of members of the LGBT community. In conjunction with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Police Department, a new unit has been created that is specially designed to handle crimes against members of the LGBT community. The unit will be assigned one special prosecutor and one special investigator, each with special training to handle cases in which members of the LGBT community have been specifically targeted.
Because of Dana Nessel’s continued work as a defense attorney all across Michigan, she will take no part in any of the investigations or prosecutions handled by the new unit. However, Ms. Nessel is the President of Fair Michigan, the organization behind the push to create the unit.
Here is a link to a story by the Detroit News.
Dana Nessel, a household name in the LGBT community, has dedicated herself to fighting against injustice in the courtroom. Now she has taken the fight out of the courts and is taking it to the ballot box. Unfortunately, not all in the LGBT community are supporting Dana’s efforts. Dana and several other dedicated citizens, Democrat and Republican, have begun an initiative to have an equal rights amendment added to the State Constitution of Michigan. The amendment would ban discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The organization behind the effort, Fair Michigan, is working to gather enough signatures to have the measure placed on the ballot in time for the 2016 election.
Here is a link to an excellent story by Jack Lessenberry, who writes about the seemingly curious divisiveness that Dana’s fight has created in the LGBT community.