Lessons for other social justice causes
In this Chronicle of Philanthropy op-ed, Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson reflects on how the movement came so far, so fast.
Across much of the United States, we are closer to legal equality for gays and lesbians than ever before, but we still have a long way to go. It’s time to give all gay people and their families the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
In 2001, the Haas, Jr. Fund became the first foundation to make marriage equality a funding priority. Last year, with the Supreme Court’s historic Obergerfell ruling in June 2015, the freedom to marry was extended to gay and lesbian couples from coast-to-coast.
Marriage equality is now the law of the land, but protecting the freedom to marry will continue to demand hard work.
Today, some are arguing that government officials shouldn’t be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or that businesses can refuse services to those couples.
In addition, gay and lesbian people in many states still do not have basic protections from employment and housing discrimination.
We took a stand for the freedom to marry 15 years ago. Now, we’re determined to defend that freedom and other civil rights for LGBT Americans. The Fund is supporting efforts to:
We are supporting litigation and coordinated action to enforce the Supreme Court’s historic Obergefell decision, including challenging laws that undermine that decision by authorizing or allowing discrimination against gay couples.
We are investing in three areas: (1) Building case law establishing that current federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex should also include sexual orientation and gender identity; (2) Research & Communications on how to reach and move the public on nondiscrimination issues, including protecting the long-established balance between civil rights and religious liberties, and how to overcome attacks against transgender people; and (3) A national campaign, led by the Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, to educate the public about the harm caused by anti-LGBT discrimination and the need for redress. People of faith have a central role in advancing these protections and we seek to elevate their voices in educating the public about how the freedom to marry and extending civil protections to LGBT people do not infringe on religious freedoms.
Together with our Immigrant Rights program, we’re strengthening alliances between the LGBT and immigrant rights communities. We’re working with the Haas Leadership Initiative to support and train LGBT leaders of color through the 21st Century Fellows program. As part of the LGBT Giving Project, we’re exploring ways to increase the number of LGBT people providing to LGBT organizations.
Even as marriage equality becomes a reality in every state in the nation, the struggle for LGBT equality continues.
Matt oversees the Fund’s extensive support for the drive for equal rights and opportunities for immigrants and gays and lesbians.
All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about.Harvey Milk