Originally founded in 1983 as the Michigan Organization for Human Rights (M.O.H.R.), Triangle began in 1991 from the urgent need to help victims of anti-LGBT hate crimes and discrimination.
Jeffrey Montgomery became Executive Director of Triangle Foundation because he experienced this need firsthand after his partner was murdered in the city of Detroit and police there refused to investigate the crime. From 1991 to the mid 2000s Mr. Montgomery could be seen everywhere, from the covers of newspapers to hospital bedsides, aiding victims of anti-LGBT hate crimes while working to raise awareness of the effects of hate crimes and discrimination.
Eventually Triangle Foundation added a policy department to advocate for pro-equality legislative change and to counter anti-equality initiatives in the state legislature, in state agencies, and in the Governor’s office. Triangle Foundation, through its first Director of Policy Sean Kosofsky, became a well-known and powerful force in Michigan’s capital. Triangle Foundation tackled issues ranging from anti-bullying legislation to the campaign to add members of the LGBT communities to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which prohibits bias-based discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Triangle Foundation was also a strong voice in the overall progressive movement in Michigan and became a vocal supporter of causes ranging from the campaign for a living wage to the legalization of medical marijuana. In addition to its work on statewide policy and victim assistance, Triangle Foundation was active on the national scene. It was a founding member of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP), which collects statistics on anti-LGBT hate crimes and discrimination from the state agencies that directly help victims with these issues. The NCAVP was founded due to the lack of comprehensive information on anti-LGBT hate crimes and discrimination at the national level. By self-compiling the data, Triangle Foundation was able to show the wider community that anti-LGBT hate crimes are a real and constant threat.
Triangle Foundation continued to grow, adding events like Motor City Pride, the Michigan Lesbian and Gay ComedyFest, and programming for LGBT youth. By the time Triangle Foundation and Michigan Equality merged, the Triangle Foundation was one of the most respected organizations in statewide LGBT advocacy and anti-violence in the country.
Michigan Equality was formed in 1999 by members of the LGBT community who saw the need for a bi-partisan organization that would work across the aisle to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Michigan Equality was founded in Lansing in order to have immediate and direct access to legislators and to the Governor’s office.
Michigan Equality helped lead successful non-discrimination ballot initiatives in Kalamazoo, Traverse City, Huntington Woods and Ypsilanti. The organization’s Political Action Committee took an active role in supporting pro-equality candidates for Governor and state legislative offices, and the organization was able to attract people from both major political parties as staff and Board members. In addition, several key Michigan Equality leaders were later elected to political office and won seats on various government boards.