Advancing equal rights

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, including the freedom to marry the person they love.

Moving Hearts and Minds

Freedom and equality are not new values, they are the fundamental core of our constitution. When gay people are allowed to participate fully in society, it benefits our communities, the economy, and millions of American families, gay and straight. Marriage equality is an important part of ending discrimination. Winning this right is a defining step toward full equality and inclusion of gay people in American life.

Helping Love Win

We’ve come a long way. Over the last decade, national support for marriage equality has increased sharply, and gay rights have moved from a fringe issue to the center of public debate.

Growing Support icon Legal Recognition icon Increased Protections icon

Growing Support

Most Americans now support marriage equality and that figure grows every year. (updated November 2014)

Legal Recognition

The US Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriage in the states where it is legal.

Increased Protections

Over 70% of the US population lives in a state that allows gay couples to marry. (updated November, 2014)

But the United States still treats gay people unfairly. Discrimination not only hurts gay people and their families, it impacts the economy and erodes society.

Photo of a wedding Photo of protest sign Photo of couple and child

Gay couples still cannot marry in the many states, and same-sex couples in those states are denied hundreds of critical, state-based protections and benefits.

Gay people in the majority of states can be fired from their jobs, denied housing, and even denied service in a restaurant, simply for being gay.

Children of LGBT parents may be denied legal protections, including access to their parents’ medical insurance and financial protection in the event of a parent’s death.

How We'll Get There: Reaching a Tipping Point

In 2001, the Haas, Jr. Fund became the first foundation, gay or straight, to support the freedom to marry. Today, we support key efforts to end discrimination and advance marriage rights and equal opportunities for gay people. Our goal is help push the nation to a tipping point on marriage so that this basic freedom is secured coast-to-coast.

  • We invest in non-lobbying educational activities that advance understanding of the importance of marriage.  We endeavor to stimulate a national dialogue on marriage rights, and work with the Civil Marriage Collaborative, Freedom to Marry and other partners to bring more states into the marriage equality column. We support the efforts of core faith grantees to raise the voices of gay-affirming clergy and people of faith in marriage debates. And, we support lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of restrictions on the freedom to marry.
  • We secure basic nondiscrimination protections at the state level as a way to open the door to equal marriage rights. We work with the State Equality Fund to create a greater understanding of the harms caused to gay people by discrimination in employment, housing, and education. This work enables our grantees and others to secure basic civil rights protections for gay and lesbian people in the states that have no such safeguards. In addition, we support projects to build strong partnerships among gay and immigrant communities, as well as efforts to combat rampant discrimination against transgender people. 
  • We support research and planning that move hearts and minds and help identify solutions for advancing gay and lesbian equality. Among the research and planning questions we are focused on: how to protect more gay people from discrimination through federal administrative action; how to better educate the public about the harms caused by anti-gay discrimination; and how to increase the number of gay people giving to the movement for equality.
  • We work to strengthen leadership and communications capabilities across the gay and lesbian equality movement. We work to amplify the impact of the movement by providing leadership development support to key grantees through the Fund’s Leadership Program, as well as by forging new partnerships among funders and movement leaders on urgent communications priorities. We also support the efforts of the 21st Century Fellows Program to increase the number of people of color leaders in the gay movement.

photo of gay couple and their kids with rainbow flag waving

“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




Marriage Equality Quiz

Test your knowledge of how far the movement has come and where rights for gays and lesbians still lag behind.