Henry Grix, AB '70, JD '77,
and Howard Israel, BFA '72
Henry Grix and Howard Israel are grateful that they attended U-M, but, as longtime advocates for LGBT rights, they did not initially view support for the University as their philanthropic priority. “The University attracts donations from around the world, but supporters of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights are relatively few. As gay men, we wanted to devote our charitable dollars to LGBT organizations and projects,” Grix says.
Grix and Israel have come to see support for the University as consistent with their philanthropic priority. Lifelong Michigan residents, they regard the University as a beacon within the state, region, and nation. “The University is a center of influence
that has taken principled stands in support of LGBT issues, from opening the first student affairs office for LGBT students 40 years ago to implementing domestic partnership benefits for LGBT employees. The University deserves our support.”
Recently the couple, who live in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, made a gift of $110,000 to the Law School to establish the Spectrum Fund. Grix and Israel hope that, among other things, the fund will provide fellowships and scholarships to enable students who are passionate about LGBT equality to pursue research, impact litigation, and do policy work. They also hope that the creation of the Spectrum Fund will attract other donors. “Our great hope is that our ‘seed gift’ will encourage others to join us in expanding the resources available to young lawyers who want to advance LGBT equality,” says Israel.
Grix, editor of The Michigan Daily as an undergraduate, has practiced as a trusts and estates lawyer with Dickinson Wright in metro Detroit since Law School graduation. Israel worked as a graphic designer and chef after graduation from art school
and now works full time on behalf of LGBT causes. Among other projects, he currently serves as volunteer co-administrator of the Racial Equity Initiative at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The Racial Equality Initiative is a component
fund of the Community Foundation that focuses on building leadership and capacity in local LGBT people-of-color organizations.
Israel became an activist three decades ago “for my own integrity,” he says. “I didn’t want to be a second-class citizen.” Grix joined him in political work 24 years ago, when they became life partners as well as collaborators in advancing the rights of
the LGBT community. In recognition of their leadership, Grix and Israel were one of three couples honored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan at the group’s annual dinner in November 2011 that marked the 10th anniversary of the ACLU
of Michigan LGBT Project.
During their lifetimes, Grix and Israel have witnessed both substantial progress and major setbacks on the road to legal and social equality. For example, marriage equality for same-sex couples was not even discussed when they attended the
University, but Grix and Israel recently married in New York, where same-sex civil marriage was legalized in 2011. They are troubled, however, that neither federal nor Michigan law will recognize their New York marriage.
“When we meet LGBT and allied students today,” Grix says, “we are amazed at how out and open they are. They are not frightened the way we were 40 years ago. Still, many worry about how ‘out’ they can be in their personal and professional lives.|
“The Spectrum Fund needs to be flexible enough to accommodate social changes,” says Grix. “Even if civil marriage equality comes, discrimination based upon
sexual orientation will persist in other areas, and the Spectrum Fund will be needed.”
If you’re interested in making a gift to the Spectrum Fund or would like to talk
with a Law School representative about doing so, please call 734.615.4511.