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Michigan Department of Civil Rights Responds to the Passing of LGBTQ Leader Jim Toy

Lansing, MI - John. E. Johnson, Jr., Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, and MDCR LGBTQ Liaison Cynthia L. Thornton have issued the following statements on the death of Jim Toy, long-time Michigan LGBTQ leader and activist.

John E. Johnson, Jr., Executive Director, Michigan Department of Civil Rights:

"Jim Toy was an exceptional leader and a trailblazer, and the country owes him a debt of gratitude. He was fearless and uncompromising in the advancement of LGBTQ rights and awareness at a time when few were speaking out and those who did could face profound personal and professional consequences. His successful effort to establish what is now the Spectrum Center at the University of Michigan was a groundbreaking achievement, not just for Ann Arbor or the state of Michigan, but for the nation. His powerful voice on behalf of the LGBTQ community will be greatly missed."

Cynthia L. Thornton, LGBTQ Liaison for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights:

"In this young new year, Michigan-and indeed the world-has lost a spirited, seemingly indefatigable LGBTQ activist who fought for equality for more than 50 years as an out gay man. I am profoundly grateful for his life and for having had the chance to share space with him to experience his light and positivity firsthand, and to be energized by the hopefulness he embodied. After 91 years of life, Jim Toy has earned his rest and leaves a legacy that will continue to inspire and be an example worthy of emulating."

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.


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