In 2015, same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states after a historic Supreme Court ruling. Once the balloons deflated and the risers and sound systems from celebrations across the country were taken down, many LGBTQ people and allies packed up and went home. But the work to advance the rights of the LGBTQ community was far from over.
As we have seen over the past six years, marriage was not the end-all and be-all of our struggle for LGBTQ rights. In 29 states, there are currently no laws explicitly protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. LGBTQ Americans remain vulnerable to being evicted from their homes, kicked out of a business that’s open to the public, denied health care, or denied government services in a majority of states simply because of who we are.
Beyond basic protections to live and work, LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, face unique obstacles in accessing health care and are at a greater risk of experiencing mental health issues. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues; LGBTQ people are more at risk of contracting COVID-19 and 30% more likely than the general population to have lost their jobs during this time. Needless to say, marriage equality was just one of many basic protections the LGBTQ community needs.
At Equality Federation, we believe our local communities and home states impact our day-to-day lives, especially for LGBTQ people who face varying social climates and legal policies depending on where we live. We believe that strong leaders create effective organizations, and effective organizations create a thriving movement for LGBTQ equality. That’s why we partner with more than 40 state-based equality organizations across the country, providing them with the resources, leadership development, and advocacy support they need to better the lives of LGBTQ people in all the communities we call home.
Our ultimate goal is to for all LGBTQ people to be fully empowered and represented in their communities and experience full equality in their lives free from discrimination and increased risk of hardship. We accomplish this by:
- Working with our state-based members to put pressure on Congress to pass the Equality Act to provide federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
- Partnering with leaders on the ground to fend off attacks on our community and advance protections for LGBTQ people in state legislatures, where hundreds of bills affecting our community are introduced every year, including over 80 targeting transgender youth in 2021.
- Continuing our efforts to decriminalize HIV by partnering with state groups to update existing policies.
- Supporting state-level implementation of the Older Americans Act, which includes provisions ensuring LGBTQ elders get the services and support they need to remain independent.
As we celebrate the progress we have made, we know we must continue to fight for all of us, especially LGBTQ people of color, older adults, and transgender youth. Our collective work going forward must put their voices, stories, and lives at the forefront of our policy and advocacy agendas. The opportunities for big changes exist, but LGBTQ organizations need the advocacy, engagement, and support of our community and its allies to accomplish our goals.
Four Ways Donors Can Get Involved:
- Support Equality Federation to infuse resources and capacity-building into the states.
- Get involved with your state-based equality organization to support the work in the community you call home.
- Subscribe to our email list: The Equality Federation team will make sure you’re among the first to know when something happens that impacts our community and what we are doing about it.
- Donate to the LGBTQ fund of your local community foundation.
Original contribution by Fran Hutchins, Executive Director at Equality Federation.
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