Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
If you ask the average GLBT person where “the movement” is really happening and where most of our progress is being made, they might instinctively say that is somewhere on the coasts. And to some extent they would be right, but not necessarily because of coastal liberalism. It is because coastal state organizers have been kicking butt. Our national GLBT groups are almost entirely based on the coasts and have grown and matured into respected power players in Washington, New York and elsewhere. They are well-funded and will be with us for a long time, doing valuable and they do important work.
The political center of gravity for the GLBT movement, however, has shifted to the states. It has actually always been that way, but in a world where the White House, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court are controlled by right-wing extremists, our movement will continue to see most of its victories coming from the local and state level. Even with Clinton’s pro-GLBT bent, we saw the passage of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. Although Clinton set a tone, he did not leave a legacy for GLBT people.
We have won our rights throua a patchwork of victories in cities, universities, school districts and states. That organizing has built the groundwork for our national leaders to see tha critical mass building in the states.
With constitutional amendments coming at states like waves of locusts, state and local organizations are building the capacity for the next fight, even if they lose the one for marriage. In Michigan alone, many GLBT organizations are more unified, galvanized and prepared to fight and win than ever before.
National organizations have, in recent years, moved to increase levels of direct funding to statewide organizations. In addition to Foundation support, HRC, NGLTF and Freedom to Marry are leading the way in shifting priorities to cities and states. Last year, activists descended on Cincinatti and won a repeal of the only remaining anti-gay rights law in the nation (excluding marriage). National groups are initiating lasting programs and funding initiatives with statewide organizations. We owe this shift, and a large debt of gratitude, to the vision, grassroots pressure and organizing power of the Equality Federation and its member organizations. Equality Federation has worked for over 8 years to re-direct the priorities of our movement to the front-lines where we can win with personal conversations, face-to-face lobbying, and neighbors and families changing hearts and minds.
Most statewide GLBT rights groups do not have the funds or the capacity to fully reach their potential for growth and to deliver regular victories for our community. We must support those organizations with real and concrete resources, while still supporting our national partners. These organizations make a dime do a dollar’s work.
Most GLBT people still give a majority of their charitable donations to non-GLBT charities. And most of the “GLBT” gifts given are still directed toward AIDS organizations, national GLBT organizations and community centers. We must increase the pool of money available for statewide lobbying and civil rights organizations or else we will continue to chase our tail and wait for victories upon high. We should shift our focus to places like Connecticut, which just passed civil unions without a court mandate, and Michigan which killed its anti-gay marriage amendment in the legislature by just a few votes, or Utah (yeah, you heard me) where they lost by only one vote.
Even presidential elections are nothing more than state-by-state contests for the electoral college. In Michigan, and elsewhere, this shift is occurring. If you want to be adept at spotting political trends, this is one to pay attention to. To find out more about the federation visit http://www.equalityfederation.org.