We are proud to be partnering with Equality Federation this month. Read about their work connecting LGTBQ activists across the country and how you can support gay rights in your community. Bonus: We're donating 10% of all web proceeds to them now through June 30!

Q: How did Equality Federation start and what is your mission?

Equality Federation Institute (EFI) is the movement builder and strategic partner to 39 state-based organizations advocating for LGBTQ people. The greatest opportunities for policy victories that improve the lives of LGBTQ people are in the states—where the work is hard but the impact is great. Since 1997, we have worked throughout the country to build the leaders of today and tomorrow, strengthen state-based LGBTQ organizations, and make critical progress on the issues that matter most.

We won’t stop until all LGBTQ people are fully empowered and represented in their communities and experience full equality in their lives.

Q: What is the primary concern that you have for 2019 for the LGBTQ community?

We’re driven by our mission to make sure all LGBTQ people can live wherever they call home. With the current political landscape, states are in an especially vulnerable place. At the same time, we’re seeing a lot more room at the state level for pro-LGBTQ policies to move. For example, 18 states have passed youth conversion therapy bans in recent years, which is huge progress!

We know that the way to build a strong LGBTQ movement is to develop strong leadership at the state level. The success of our movement depends on having strong and sustainable organizations with a diverse pool of resilient, adaptive leaders. The next phase for the LGBTQ movement is going to require working across movements for justice, learning from smart, savvy advocates for racial justice, reproductive health, and others.

Our work this year is going to be intensive with our members, helping to build the base of supporters, voters, and donors ahead of 2020 elections.

Q: How is the LAC (Legislative Action Center) handling that and supporting individual state policies?

A key component of our Advocacy & Civic Engagement program is our Legislative Action Center. We track every piece of LGBTQ-related legislation in all 50 states—hundreds of bills each year—so we can provide advocates on the ground with the organizing, messaging, and policy resources they need. We work with our members and their constituents to prepare press releases and op-eds, media interviews, press conferences, public testimony, and rapid response crisis communications.

Our Legislative Action Center tracked hundreds of bills affecting the LGBTQ community in 2018 and 2019. More than 120 anti-LGBTQ laws were introduced across 33 states during the 2018-2019 state legislative season. The work we do through our Legislative Action Center continues to be a critical part of advocacy work across the country during state legislative sessions.

Q: Who are your members? How do you bring them together?

Our members are state-based LGBTQ advocacy organizations across the country.

One of the ways we support their growth is to bring them together. Before we started our covenings, neighboring state organizations didn’t talk to each other very often. Now, we bring state leaders together in different regions to share skills, learn about the legislative trends (good and bad!) that are popping up in the area, and bond as peers in the movement. We have a Southern Leadership Summit in the spring (held in Fort Lauderdale, FL in 2019), a combined West by Midwest Leadership Summit in the fall (coming up in Detroit, MI in November), and a second annual Northeast Leadership Summit in the winter. Lastly, our annual Leadership Conference is the premier convening by and for the leaders of the state-based LGBTQ movement.

Q: What are some of the ways you are participating in Pride Month? What are you most excited about?

We believe that Pride is a time to celebrate the progress we’ve made, come together joyfully as a community, and prepare for the work we still have to do.

We’re participating in Pride with a series of awareness raising events across the country and we are partnering with different companies that want to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community. We had an event in Washington, D.C. on June 20th and we are especially excited about an event we are holding at the new Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, CA next week! We’re also gearing up for our Leadership Conference in Louisville, Kentucky where we’ll bring together 250+ leaders of the LGBTQ movement!

Q: How can our blog readers get involved with supporting LGBTQ rights in their communities?

Get connected to the state-based LGBTQ advocacy organization in your state! Our members are all over the country, from Equality Maine to Basic Rights Oregon, Equality Florida to OutFront Minnesota. They are on the ground in your home community everyday, organizing rallies, turning out voters, and making sure policies and laws to keep LGBTQ people safe and thriving pass through the state legislatures.

We have a mission of building strong leadership at the state level – all of our programming underscores just that and allows us to build a strong LGBTQ movement.

Definitely check out our website for more updates – equalityfederation.org!