DETROIT – State Representative Brian Banks (D-Harper Woods) held a meet and greet last week in response to recent hate crimes committed against Detroit’s LGBTQ community. The meeting was an open forum for discussion between LGBTQ community members and allies, Detroit residents, legislative staffers, judges and representatives from local resource centers to get together and discuss the issues facing Detroit’s LGBTQ community. Rep. Banks was joined by fellow state Representatives Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Alberta Tinsley-Talabi (D-Detroit), Rose Mary Robinson (D-Detroit) and Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor).

“This is a basic civil rights issue. Equal representation as well as protection for every citizen is a must for all Michiganders,” Banks said. “This meeting allowed lawmakers to hear from the LGBTQ community and understand how this group has suffered enough mental, physical, economic and emotional abuse already – and how, as lawmakers, we must work to help eradicate this problem.”

Rep. Banks was asked to hold the meeting following the events of Nov. 8, 2013, when a transgender Detroit woman was found murdered in a trash receptacle off Woodward Avenue.

“This meeting gave me the opportunity to hear the perspectives of people who have been excluded from full participation in our society,” Irwin said. “I learned some new things about how state government is complicit in systematically discriminating against this group that is already disadvantaged and threatened with physical violence simply for existing. We need to work to make sure that all Michiganders have equal protection under the law.”

In response to the concerns brought to light at the meet and greet, Banks will host a roundtable discussion and workgroup to brainstorm possible legislative activities.

Reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere”, Tinsley-Talabi added, “Something has got to be done.”

Banks concluded his remarks, saying, “We can’t talk about violence, bullying, workplace protections, discrimination, or prejudice without recognizing and including the LGBTQ community.”