Jackson County, MI, turns human resources over to Crystal Dixon

Timothy Kincaid

March 30th, 2011

On April 4, 2008, Michael Miller, the editor of the Toledo Free Press, wrote an editorial in which he declared his affiliation with and affection for the community of gay people in his life. He expressed his difficulty in understanding anti-gay prejudice and the motivations behind those who advocate for discrimination.

Because I have such intense love and respect for the people in my life who are gay, it never makes sense to me when I hear someone preaching anti-gay rights propaganda. I can never understand why they care.

It’s basic Golden Rule territory: don’t judge people for the color of their skin or their physical challenges, and don’t judge them for their sexuality. I know that is a simplified and naïve statement, but for me, the issue really is that simple.

Miller lamented that his home state of Ohio was behind the curve in recognizing the equality of its gay residents. As an illustration on how gay Ohioans can be subjected to casual and careless inequality and indignity, he discussed a local situation.

The frequent denial of health care benefits leads to horror stories. According to the panelists, UT has offered domestic partner benefits since then-president Dan Johnson signed them into effect. The Medical University of Ohio did not offer those benefits. When the institutions merged, UT employees retained the domestic-partner benefits, but MUO employees were not offered them. So, people working for the same employer do not have access to the same benefits. According to the panel, it may be 18 months before the situation is addressed. Eighteen months is a very long time to live (and work at a medical facility) without health benefits.

Miller’s criticism did not sit well with Crystal Dixon, associate vice president for Human Resources at the University of Toledo. So on April 18, the Free Press printed Dixon’s rebuttal and allowed her to set the record straight.

But the Free Press’ implied criticism of the administration was not her concern. No, Dixon was furious that Miller dared to suggest that the struggle for equality for gay people had anything in common with the struggle for equality endured by African-Americans. How dare he compare her to one of them.

As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo’s Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are “civil rights victims.” Here’s why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle evidenced by the growing population of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex Gays) and Exodus International just to name a few.

Her letter went on to express her belief that Jesus Christ hates homosexuality, to accuse gay people of violating God’s divine order, to complain that “economic data” proved that gay men who have degrees make more money than a non-college educated black male, and to declare that it was “misleading” to note that gay employees were categorically denied benefits when ALL employees of the two schools have “different benefit plans.”

To say that this was an embarrassment for the University of Toledo would be an understatement. Not only did her actions threaten her department’s employment negotiation possibilities, but it put the entire university in a disadvantage. When considering their options, few prospective college students consider anti-gay advocacy to be a selling point.

So on May 2, Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, the president of the University of Toledo, wrote an op-ed to assure the public that the school does not engage in anti-gay hiring practices, that Dixon’s comments “do not accord with the values of the University of Toledo”, and that he had personally lobbied the legislature in favor of domestic-partner recognition. He also corrected the impression that Dixon gave about the university’s position on the denial of benefits.

As regards the continued asymmetry of benefits packages across the campuses of this university, do understand that we are fully aware that asymmetry that Michael S. Miller spoke of does exist and are working as rapidly as we can to correct this asymmetry. When this asymmetry is corrected, the solution will be reflective of the university value statements above.

And with a cryptic reference to taking action to “more fully align our utterances and actions” with the values he expressed, Dr. Jacobs hinted that Dixon might best update her resume. And, indeed, on the 8th, noting that “personnel actions or decisions taken in your capacity as associate vice president for human resources could be challenged or placed at risk”, the University notified her that she had been terminated.

Naturally, letters flooded in to the editor. Those offended by Dixon’s views tended towards relatively polite exclamations of consternation and little lectures on equality and civil rights. Those angry at Dixon’s discontinued employment included accusations of fascism combined with a healthy dose of religious entitlement and no small amount of homophobia.

Dixon retained the Catholic advocacy law firm, Thomas Moore Law Center, and announced her intention to sue the university for violating her First Amendment rights. And World Net Daily, never one to let a loon go unchampioned, took up her causeRush Limbaugh and Focus on the Family presented Dixon as a martyr, a victim of liberal godlessness
and soon Crystal Dixon was the darling of the anti-gay industry.

Even wackadoodlery’s favorite theologian, Dr. Robert Gagnon, rushed to get a little attention from the controversy. In an open letter to the university full of axiomatic declarations about the obviousness of heterosexuality and amusing assumptions about gay relationships (lesbians have “markedly shorter durations of sexual unions on average, even relative to homosexual males”), he declared that “the closest parallels to adult-committed homosexual relations is not ethnicity or gender but rather adult-committed incestuous unions and adult-committed polysexual unions”.

Gagnon decried the school’s “full affirmation of homosexual activity” and bemoaned the “environment that provides increased opportunities for and fewer negative sanctions against same-gender sexuality”. To not sing Dixon’s praises for her honesty and her courage of conviction was, Gagnon declared, a sign of their intolerance. (One thing you have to say about Robert Gagnon, he never lets logic or consistency dissuade him from the certainty of his presumptions.)

In December 2008, Dixon made good on her threat to sue. But after that her trail goes a bit cold. Thomas Moore Law Center waved her flag a bit in their rundraising efforts, but I’m not sure whether her case was heard or if the school settled.

But, meanwhile, Crystal made good use of her down time. She wrote a book, Destiny’s Time, which is either “A New Novel!” or a guide to turning your “God-given talents and passions” into “viable businesses as well as enhancing job readiness skills!” Or perhaps both.

And she also started a company to sell shoe laces (with the catchy slogan “keeps shoes tied”) and a consulting frim which offers not only business advice but opportunities such as


1.You pre-buy paper-back books directly from the author at a discounted rate of $7.50 each and then you sell each book for $11 (includes tax) to your customers. And/or you can pre-buy audio books on CD at the discounted rate of $12.50 each and then you sell each audio book for $20. YOU KEEP all monies from books you sell and you have books to sell on the spot! (Minimum of 5 books for consultant purchases).

2. With your sales, you automatically recoup your $7.50 investment and also earn a 47% ($3.50) profit on each paper-back book you sell! For audio books, you earn at 66% ($7.50) profit on each book you sell. Share the books at your convenience!

(The third great way to earn extra income appears to be a secret.)

However, it looks like Ms. Dixon may now be returning from private enterprise to the governmental sector work force. The county and city of Jackson, Michigan, have decided to consolidate their human relations departments and place them under one director’s control. And they have decided that Crystal Dixon, at a salary of $87,030, is the right person for this role.

Noting that Dixon has spent the past three years “working as a human resources and business consultant”, the Interim County Administrator praised her ability to “wear many hats and switch her leadership style based on where she is.” (Mlive.com)

Interim county Administrator Adam Brown said Dixon’s level of experience and professionalism put her “head and shoulders” above other candidates.

It’s tempting to think that if the County representatives are that stupid then they deserve what they get. But there is a bigger issue at stake; Crystal Dixon has been given authority over the livelihood of any gay people that work for the county and city of Jackson.

And while Dixon is certainly entitled to her views about matters of faith, homosexuality, choice, and civil rights, if she is incapable or unwilling to set aside those views, this will undoubtedly result in a culture – and perhaps even policy – of anti-gay discrimination.

And, even before three years of receiving accolades for her anti-gay advocacy, Dixon left little doubt as to whether she considers employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to be objectionable. She does not. She considers it a divine mandate.

Looking back to where it started, before Dixon was the champion of God, family, and decency, she was a woman responding to a newspaper editor’s call for equal compensation for gay employees. And it was in the context of this right that Dixon countered:

There is a divine order. God created human kind male and female (Genesis 1:27). God created humans with an inalienable right to choose. There are consequences for each of our choices, including those who violate God’s divine order. It is base human nature to revolt and become indignant when the world or even God Himself, disagrees with our choice that violates His divine order. Jesus Christ loves the sinner but hates the sin (John 8:1-11.) Daily, Jesus Christ is radically transforming the lives of both straight and gay folks and bringing them into a life of wholeness: spiritually, psychologically, physically and even economically. That is the ultimate right.

In April 2008, Crystal Dixon endorsed anti-gay discrimination, saying, “one’s personal choices lead to outcomes either positive or negative.” Having now been confirmed in her beliefs by the city and county of Jackson, there is little doubt that she will see this as God anointing her to mete out those outcomes.


March 30th, 2011

I work with people every day who have very different political and personal beliefs than I do – many of which would see me burn in hell. My boss is a Republican. His boss is a hardcore Democrat. And yet we all get along just dandy. It should be noted that my boss’s father was gay. Its called being professional.

So really you are expressing an opinion about how she goes about her work with absolutely no proof to back it up except for a letter she wrote. And people in her position never operate in a vacuum. There are lawyers, policy wonks, etc that all have an input into policy and negotiations.


March 30th, 2011

it does remain to be seen as to how crystal dixon does this new job. i think she didn’t have grounds in the old lawsuit because she spoke about university policy without permission.


March 30th, 2011

Tim, praytell what more proof than the letter is needed? She was a University employee, and publicly represented the university with ridiculous nutcase-worthy rhetoric that said she would continue to support discrimination against gay employees. She does not deserve a public position in which the livelihood of those she unjustly hates depends on her, especially since she’s already admitted that’s how she rolls.

Richard Rush

March 30th, 2011

For “a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo’s Graduate School, an employee and business owner,” and who also takes “great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are “civil rights victims,”” Crystal Dixon seems pretty stupid. I think lots of reasonable people would wonder if she was moved onward and upward as an affirmative action token, rather than on her own merits.


March 30th, 2011

The is notion that we choose to be gay as if we choose a piece of clothing is what makes these Christofascists the most dangerous with their rhetoric. They try to persuade the ignorant public that being gay is a choice. So why does she choose to be straight? We have to fight this argument as for what it is – junk. She mentions Exodus – is she serious? What a complete bigoted ignorant piece of garbage. It’s time to stop trying to reason with these fascists and go on the attack. You cannot win compromising with these fools.


March 30th, 2011

John 8:1-11

Uh, if you want to “love the sinner” of *adultery*, then I suggest that you let gays get church-married.

Otherwise, just another one talking nonsense out of her Sunday hat, that gays don’t exist.

It was over 100 years that the works of Galileo were decried and suppressed as heresy and another 100 years to finally “face the truth” officially.

Lindoro Almaviva

March 30th, 2011

Taking bets on how long before she is embroiled in a suit for discrimination


March 30th, 2011

for those who poo poo the idea that she won’t act on her ideas and cause problems for gay people in her new job, we’ve seen it time and time again. these extremists when placed in positions of power always abuse the trust they are given and always cause pain in the lives of those who’s lives are not like their own. The problem is this, what she’s doing is EXACTLY what the racists in power did to African Americans and they even went so far as to declare the higher morale and Godly Mandate against her own people when they did these things in the past. You can lookup the newspapers of the time and see it. White supremecist Christianists of the time of MLK used the bible to justify the denial of Black rights.


March 30th, 2011

Minor nitpick. MI = Michigan, MS = Mississippi. We now return you to your regular commenting…


March 30th, 2011

Ah yes, Jackson, Michigan. “Birthplace of the Republican Party” (it says so on their city-border signs; I used to live nearby).

It’s unlikely that complaining about her homophobia—how it’s incompatible w/ taxpayer-funded “human relations”— will get her terminated from a position there.

Rachel H

March 30th, 2011

What does she even mean, she can’t wake up and not be a black woman? I’m sure she could use some toxic bleaching cream in an attempt to become just a little whiter. Sure, it’d do violence to her body and to her essential nature, but if she loved God, she’d be willing to cripple herself for him.

(Just in case anyone thinks I’m doing anything other than drawing parallels: I’m not.)


March 31st, 2011

I wonder where she stands on the Curse of Ham.


March 31st, 2011

Jackson County’s published personnel policy includes this diversity statement.

“It is the policy of Jackson County to employ a work force that reflects the diversity of the citizens we serve. We recognize the benefits of diversity and its contribution to the workplace as we carry out our mission and promote the tenets of County Quality I…

We further recognize that differences add richness and talent to our employee teams and make us more creative and successful in serving our customers.”

Unless the State of Michigan has a policy that extends to counties, I would not be confident in any sort of explicit employment discrimination protection at the county level.


March 31st, 2011

GDad wrote:

Unless the State of Michigan has a policy that extends to counties, I would not be confident in any sort of explicit employment discrimination protection at the county level.

I reply:

The State of Michigan does have such a law. It’s called the Eliot Larson Act (I think I have that right). But it doesn’t include sexual orientation or gender expression.


March 31st, 2011


I did a Westlaw search on the case. We probably haven’t heard anything because her complaint was amended to drop all constitutional claims and now constitutes a case solely based on the Equal Pay Act. For the religious right this simply doesn’t have any red meat on a morality issue that can raise money and drum up the base.


March 31st, 2011

Just to clarify, the amended complaint didn’t drop the constitutional claims, but rather all the action on the case is about the EPA. The constituional claims are amended to ask for no damages and thus taking a backseat at this point to the pay discrimination claims.


March 31st, 2011

When are these people going to get it through their stone for brains that being gay is not a lifestyle choice. Like people would choose to be hated and discriminated against, attacked and killed. I am also tired of people acting like there are degrees of discrimination. “I’ve been discriminated against more than you, therefore, you don’t count as much.” That is a cop out to discriminate against others. Discrimination is discrimination and is wrong in all cases.

Other Fred in the UK

March 31st, 2011

I just wanted to say this is the sort of fantastic in depth journalism (remembering stories which others have long forgotten) for which I read the Box Turtle Bulletin. Keep the great work up, chaps!


April 1st, 2011


Thanks for that tidbit. Other than the past couple of years of Detroit issues, MI has sort of stayed off my radar for politics and poker.

I think my point was that with this new HR director, in the absence of any explicit protections, we shouldn’t count on her being especially friendly to LQBTG(etc.) issues, and your information looks like it supports that premise.


April 1st, 2011

With ultra liberal Ann Arbor so close, there will probably be a watchful eye kept on the future of this “person”. I hope we are kept informed.


April 1st, 2011


Thanks for the update on her lawsuit, but can you tell us anything more about what the current status is? It has been over 2 years since it was filed, and a federal employment lawsuit will go from initial filing to final judgment in less time, on average. The amendments you describe would not explain or justify any delay in the proceedings. Is there a scheduling order or anything else to suggest when it might be resolved either at trial or on summary judgment?


April 4th, 2011


There was no other information. Given that Dixon survived summary judgment, the case may have settled, but I find this unlikely given that TMLC hasn’t made any kind of announcement that the case has settled. While the average length of an employment action may be shorter in the federal system it is important to remeber that most of these cases are dismissed at the pretrial phase or settle. A dismissal for failure to state a claim or a grant of summary judgment would technically lead to a final judgment without a full trial. It’s also important to remember that unlike a Title VII case which must proceed through the EEOC before a case can be filed, Dixon bypassed the administrative agency by filing constitutional claims and passing on a Title VII case. This may lead to a court case taking longer because the EEOC investigation process often causes the parties to produce many of the evidence normally reserved for discovery. Additionally, all of the defendant’s objections were standing issues and did not touch the substantive questions in the case. Given all this I wouldn’t be surprised if the case had taken longer than usual.


April 4th, 2011


Thanks for the info! Your point about her bypassing EEOC is a good one and it probably did impact the schedule. I hope her deposition is videotaped and uploaded to Youtube. I have a feeling it will be great entertainment.

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