‘Equal dignity for all people’: Michigan AG Dana Nessel fights to help others live their truth

Dana Nessel is first openly gay person elected to Michigan statewide office

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel made history as the first openly gay person elected to a Michigan statewide office.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel made history as the first openly gay person elected to a Michigan statewide office.

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel made history as the first openly gay person elected to a Michigan statewide office.

“It’s never the wrong time to fight for equal rights and equal dignity for all people,” Nessel said.

Nessel wants to make it clear that Pride Month isn’t about politics. It’s about defending a person’s choice to love whomever they choose regardless of gender. It’s about equality and equal protection.

Read: Meet the Michigan woman who was the first openly gay person elected to political office in the US

“That’s what this month is about. It’s about celebrating the community and not letting it be about division,” Nessel said.

Nessel is married to her wife and they have two sons. She made a name for herself while working on the landmark case DeBoer v. Snyder. The case challenged Michigan’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples.

That case would eventually be grouped into the Supreme Court case that eventually guaranteed gay marriage as a legal right.

Nessel has concerns about legislation that has been directed towards members of the trans community in other parts of the country. She is worried a more conservative Supreme Court may try to strike down gay marriage.

“I think there will be this effort to treat same-sex marriages and opposite-sex marriages differently and we’ve already seen that happen,” Nessel said.

Nessel said she was surprised her sexuality didn’t become more of an issue when she ran for Attorney General.

“What was interesting to me is once I won, most people said to me, ‘I didn’t even know you were gay.’ Because it wasn’t a campaign issue,” Nessel said.

Even though major progress has been made, there are many people still afraid to live their truth. She hopes that being gay and being in a visible position will change people’s perspectives. That being gay doesn’t look different than anyone else.

“I get emails and letters and when I meet people in person, mostly young people, feel like they can be who they are. They can look at me, a statewide official who got elected, and I can be open and honest about my family and then they can too,” Nessel said.

Read: Complete Pride Month coverage


About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.