Friday, August 18, 2006

Equality Federation

The Equality Federation is in Boston right now holding its Summer Meeting. This four day meeting brings in directors, board members, and organizers from LGBT organizations across the country.
The Equality Federation is made up of LGBT groups from each state in the country. Click here to see the list of state groups.
here are representatives from national LGBT groups and over 40 state organizations here to attend the meeting. I had the opportunity to attend some of the events and meet other organizers and activists from around the country. It is interesting to hear what other state organizations are doing and how they are set up.
According to the Equality Federation:
More than ever before, state governments are making laws on the issues that impact our daily lives, from hate violence to employment and housing discrimination; from student harassment to adoption and foster care; and from domestic partnership benefits to the freedom to marry.
State organizing remains severely under researched, under resourced and understaffed. Only a handful of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender statewide groups have annual budgets of over $100,000.
The Federation has become one of the main vehicles for helping state groups to address these issues. One of the most valuable roles the Federation has played in strengthening statewide organizing has been the networking opportunity afforded to state activists. Long-lasting r
elationships formed between group leaders have facilitated the exchange of critical ideas and information on successful organizing, lobbying, and fund raising models existing in other states.
I had the opportunity to attend some workshops in the Equality Federation Summer Meeting. Workshops are varied with topics such as, "Beyond the LGBT Agenda: Making Human Rights Our Fight", "Safe Schools and Youth", "Hate Crimes Laws and Anti-Violence Programs", "Successful Lobbying Strategies", "Adoption and Foster Care", "NonDiscrimination Laws and Policies" and many more.
I presented the workshop on door-to-door
canvassing. I explained what we have been doing in Massachusetts and what has worked for us. Canvassing can be a great tool for identifying supporters and persuading people that are unsure of how they feel about LGBT issues to come to our side.
Every state is facing different issues. In Massachusetts we have had laws preventing employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation for years. We are able to adopt children. We have had safe-schools programs for LGBT youth for more than a decade. We have the right to legally marry.
Most of the state organizations in the Equality Federation are working to pass basic anti-discrimination laws. Laws that would ban employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. Many states are working to promote safe-schools programs. Some states, in addition to these other issues, are working to obtain equal marriage rights.
It is important to share what we have done in Massachusetts and learn what needs to be done in other states. Cheers to the Equality Federation.


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