Michigan bishop appointed by governor to state LGBTQ+ commission

Posted Dec 4, 2023

[Diocese of Michigan] The Rt. Rev. Bonnie Perry, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, has been appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to serve on Michigan’s first-ever statewide LGBTQ+ Commission. 

Whitmer created the LGBTQ+ Commission by executive order in June so that Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community is represented at all levels of government, including its executive branch. Perry, one of 13 commissioners, will represent religious institutions that welcome the LGBTQ+ community. Her term runs from Nov. 30, 2023, to Nov. 29, 2027. 

“Advocating for a more inclusive world where everyone’s rights are respected has long been a priority of mine,” Perry said. “I am honored to be a part of making history in Michigan and look forward to ensuring that communities of faith across the state have a welcoming voice in this important initiative.” 

Perry and the Rev. M. Susan Harlow, her spouse of 36 years, have been supporters of the LGBTQ+ community for decades. Prior to her consecration as bishop in February 2020, Perry spent 27 years as rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Chicago. While there, she was a co-founder and co-convener of the Chicago Consultation. The group is comprised of international lay and ordained religious leaders and LGBTQ+ grassroots advocates who held groundbreaking talks in several African countries on the topic of sexuality and full inclusion of all God’s people at all levels of the Anglican Communion. 

The LGBTQ+ Commission will advise the state’s governor and director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity on policy matters impacting Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community and its members, including eradicating and preventing discrimination. It will also look at how to improve and protect the health, safety and well-being of the state’s LGBTQ+ community, as well as promote its contributions, and how it can attract potential future residents to Michigan. 

Dakota Torolski, the state director in Michigan of Human Rights Campaign, said the new commission reinforces Michigan’s place as a beacon of hope for equality at a time when the LGBTQ+ community is under attack nationwide. 

“From including explicit protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protecting youth from the harmful practice of ‘conversion therapy,’ Michigan is leading by example. Today, implementing the first-ever statewide LGBTQ+ Commission is yet another stride toward making Michigan a more welcoming and prosperous place for all,” Torolski said.