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State of LGBTQ rights in Milwaukee on National Coming Out Day

NOW: State of LGBTQ rights in Milwaukee on National Coming Out Day

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center held their annual "Big Night Out" gala Friday night, on National Coming Out Day.

The center's largest fundraiser of the year usually attracts more than 500 people and raises about $200,000.

Milwaukee's LGBTQ leaders say the city is among the best in the country in providing equal rights. In fact, the Human Rights Campaign gave Milwaukee a 100/100 grade.

"We've got a long way to go to achieve true equality, and we're making those strides," Milwaukee LGBT Center Board President Nick Morgan said. "But we're really proud of the accomplishments we've made so far."

City leaders say among those accomplishments was banning conversion therapy, a paid therapy session to attempt to change a child's sexual orientation.

"The council overwhelmingly supported the banning of conversion therapy," Alderman Tony Zielinski said. "You know it should have been done earlier."

State Rep. Jocasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, is one of five members of the state Legislature to have come out. She says things have changed a lot since voters struck down state marriage equality in 2006.

"Wisconsin voted very much anti-LGBT, in favor of a ban on marriage equality in our constitution," Zamarripa said. "Now we know that the majority of Wisconsinites support marriage equality."

Leaders say there still needs to be growth in support for transgender individuals, LGBTQ members of color and LGBTQ members outside of the city.

"That young person who lives out in the rural communities, they hear maybe their pastor on Sunday say something negatively about LGBTQ people, or they hear a member of the legislature say something that is negative," Milwaukee Equal Right's Commission Board Member Tony Snell said. "Those are individual cuts."

Snell says one of the community's biggest goals for the upcoming year is banning conversion therapy statewide.

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