In 2008, donors have a unique opportunity to dramatically change the landscape for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans. Check the top giving priorities for this year...
Check also the results of the elections against our giving priorities.
Every year, it seems, is "the year" to give to achieve equality. In 2008, it is more true than ever. Consider:
- Because of the momentous California Supreme Court, giving beyond your normal levels this year could produce the highest potential return on your investment for equality in years.
- The earlier that you give the more impact the money will have.
- Please continue funding the non-profits that you have supported in the past; it is critical that they continue to be viable to achieve their important work. They need to continue stable payrolls to retain their talented and dedicated employees.
The opportunities are listed by priority to help foster understanding of where donations have the biggest impact. Your particular priorities are likely to vary depending on where you live, your political values, and the amount you give. If your budget allows it, give to as many priorities as you can. If your budget is more limited, focus on the top priorities only.
PRIORITY #1: THE PRESIDENCY
The differences regarding LGBTQ equality between the Republican nominee, John McCain, and the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, could not be more stark. Senator McCain does not support any of our equality goals, while Senator Obama supports all of our goals with the exception of marriage (but supports states' rights to define marriage as they wish). Check the detailed analysis comparing the two contenders, and their running mates, on their positions and quotes on equality.
In particular, Senator McCain has indicated that he is against
- Employment non-discrimination (ENDA) legislation for our community
- Hate Crimes legislation based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
- Lifting the ban on gays in the military
- Repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
Therefore, it is possible that Senator McCain would veto these important rights. On the other hand, Senators Obama has expressed strong support for all of the above. With a Democratic president, we would expect ENDA and Hate Crimes to become law soon; lifting the ban on lesbians and gays in the military and the repeal of DOMA should follow in a change-driven administration.
Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the next president is likely to nominate new Supreme Court Justices as well as federal judges. These justices will hear cases directly affecting LGBTQ legal rights, and a conservative court would likely deny rights that we have been working to get for decades.
Obviously, there are many more reasons, beyond equality, why we need to change course in this country.
How to give:
1) Give directly to the campaign of Barack Obama. Preferably give at an exclusively LGBTQ event. It is very important that the candidate knows of the support from the LGBTQ community and that the money is branded as such. We have asked the campaign of the candidate to keep an up-to-date list of major LGBTQ Fundraising events on this site. If you can't attend an exclusively LGBT event, then give online here; this will identify the donation as coming from the LGBT community.
2) Give to the Democratic Party through the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council. This brands donations as coming from our community, which is very important. Some donors like this approach since the money funds things like Howard Dean's "50 state strategy," with organizers in each
state and an infrastructure that will empower more than a million
"neighborhood leaders" -- already there are more than 50,000 -- to
register and turn out voters for candidates at all levels, including
the presidency and Congress. Other donors note that the money does not go to fund LGBTQ priorities, and it supports some state parties that may not be very good on LGBTQ issues. Andy Tobias, the openly-gay Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, gives 7 reasons for giving to the DNC, with a special note to Repbulicans and large donors.
PRIORITY #2: PRESERVE MARRIAGE IN CALIFORNIA
Starting June 16, 2008 same sex couples from anywhere started to marry in California. This is the result of the ruling by the California Supreme Court, the most respected state court in the country. This ruling, written by the Chief Justice, a moderate once appointed by Ronald Reagan, breaks new legal ground (beyond the marriage decision in Massachusetts), and it is a critical victory for equality, setting a model for other states.
However, the extreme right is willing and able to spend $10 - 20 million to overturn this decision with a ballot initiative this November. To defeat this initiative is critical not only for marriage in California, but also for the progress of equality in general. Defeating this ballot initiative will send a clear signal to elected officials that marriage equality is socially acceptable. It will be the pivotal victory as we start to turn the tide from opposition to marriage equality and towards full legal equality across the United States. Geoff Kors, the Executive Director of Equality California, explains why this is a critical battle for equality in the United States.
How to Give:
Equality for All is the campaign organized for the sole purpose of defeating this amendment. It has the support of all major organizations and donors. Its approach is research-based about what types of messages and images will be most appealing to the diverse group of voters. Because purchasing advertising now for October is 2-3 times cheaper than purchasing it in September, it is critical to give very generously now. The impact of a donation given today is double the value of a donation given later, so do not delay or give incrementally. There is no legal limits to what you can give. This is the time to stretch your budget. Give to Equality for All.
PRIORITY #3: CONGRESS
It is very important to increase the number of members of Congress that are fully pro-equality. This will change the tone (and votes) for important legislation such as enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act protecting sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Also, like any other group, we need non-discrimination protection in housing, credit, and public accommodations. Overturning DOMA will be much easier with pro-marriage politicians in office.
How to Give:
Given that there are legal limits as to how much donors can give to a candidate and the total for all federal candidates, it is very important to be very selective. eQualityGiving recommends giving to pro-equality candidates. After researching the candidates and interviewing each of them personally, we believe that the candidates we recommend, in addition to being pro-equality, will stand
strong in pushing for passing pro-equality legislation. See the list of Endorsed Candidates to Fund. This list includes:
- Two pro-equality Senate candidates to unseat two Republican Senators (Oregon and Minnesota) and increase the Democrats' razor-thin majority
- A pro-equality incumbent Arizona Congresswoman in a tight race for re-election
- An eQualityGiving Advisory Board Member with a very good shot of taking over a South Carolina Republican seat in the House
- An openly gay man who is in a close battle to win a primary on August 12th in Colorado
- A pro-equality candidate with a narrow lead over Colorado's Rep. Musgrave (the author of the Federal Marriage Amendment)
Donors should also consider giving openly to members of Congress known on a first name basis, as it is important to maintain those relationships.
PRIORITY #4: SELECTED STATE RACES
By selecting very strategically certain states and certain races, we can switch control of legislatures that are willing to pass equality legislation. The prime example is New York State, which is one Senate seat away from passing legislation for marriage equality.
How to Give:
Give to the candidates recommended by Gill Action, which organizes Political OutGiving --- a focused, bipartisan state-based strategy that concentrates on cultivating and delivering necessary resources to a limited number of state races, selected based on their ability to pass legislation that will dramatically affect the lives of LGBT people in the next one to three years. Campaigns are targeted within each of these states based on their potential to gain majority support for LGBT rights or defeat vocal opponents of equality. To learn more about Political OutGiving and how you can get involved, please email Eric Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the founders of eQualityGiving.
PRIORITY #5: CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT IN FLORIDA
Florida has a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November. This amendment forbids
any type of legal recognition of any relationship that is not marriage
between a man and a woman and cancels all the existing local domestic partnership
ordinances (in several jurisdictions) as well as removing benefits that unmarried straight couples
already have. The Supreme Court in Michigan agreed that a similar amendment in that state was legal and in fact removed existing protections.
Because in Florida 60% of voters need to approve a constitutional
amendment, there is a very good chance to become the second state to
defeat such amendments, after Arizona. Jon Kislak, the chair of Florida Red & Blue, the campaign designed specifically to defeat the amendment, discusses the so called marriage amendment and its impact on couples (including straight couples).
How to Give:
Many organizations are working in Florida to defeat the amendment. We recommend giving to the Florida Red & Blue campaign, which follows closely the methods employed successfully in Arizona. Florida Red & Blue is totally bipartisan, independent, and has the support of mega donors nationally and in Florida.
PRIORITY #6: CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT IN ARIZONA
Arizona was the first and only state (out of 28) to defeat a constitutional amendment that would forbid same sex marriages. This victory happened less than two years ago (November 2006). The extreme right is putting it for a vote again this November. It is very important to defeat it one more time. In 2006, Senator McCain campaigned in favor of the amendment. He is expected to do the same this year with enhanced vigor as he tries to woo his conservative base.
How to Give:
Give to Arizona Together, the organization that won this fight in 2006.
PRIORITY #7: DEFEAT THE ARKANSAS ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE ACT
This Act will not allow not-married couples to adopt or act as foster parents. The sponsors have make it very clear that they are targeting the LGBT community. The ban was first implemented as an executive order by Governor Mike Huckabee. The current governor, a democrat, opposes it as well as the Arkansas Attorney General.
How to Give:
Give to Arkansas Families First.
- VICTORY! We recommended the importance of giving to Basic Rights Montgomery that was fighting a significant battle to keep a
transgender anti-discrimination ordinance approved unanimously last
year. The Maryland Supreme Court decided on September 9, 2008 that the opponents did not collect enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
- Electing LGBTQ candidates is important for the immediate welfare of our community with important elections that affect our lives: sheriff, city councils, school boards, judges, and beyond. It is also a long term strategy to reach Congress. The Victory Fund does a great job and is the premier organization in developing, mentoring, and assisting LGBTQ candidates. Chuck Wolfe, the president and CEO of the Victory Fund, describes one such success in the deep South. Mark Burstein, a donor and executive VP at Princeton University writes why the Victory Fund creates equality. Give to the Victory Fund endorsed candidates.
- VICTORY! On October 10, 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court decided that the civil unions statue was unconstitutional and that same sex couples had full rights to marriage in the state. This decision was won by GLAD and the ACLU Connecticut. Read this article by Rick McCarthy, VP of the GLAD board. Also, read the article by Lee Swislow, ED of GLAD about the future strategy. In addition, Love Makes a Family is an aggressive organization which won a recent eQualityGiving $1,000 give-away. Anne Stanback, its Executive Director, explains what is happening in Connecticut for same sex marriage. Jamie Mills, a donor and board member of the organization, describes why she supports Love Makes a Family. The crucial step now is to ensure that there is no Constitutional Convention in Connecticut to reverse this decision.
- Iowa is pending a ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court about the right to marry in that state for same-sex couples. Give to One Iowa to ensure that fair minded politicians are elected to avoid a ballot initiative.
- We expect that the New Jersey legislature will approve marriage equality no later that June 2009, thanks to the work of Garden State Equality, which is worth supporting.