The Haas, Jr. Fund has partnered with a range of other funders—from private foundations to Fortune 500 companies—to support a nationwide educational campaign focused on anti-LGBT discrimination. The goal: securing congressional action to end the sad reality that LGBT people in 28 states can still be denied housing, service in restaurants, a loan, or even jury duty simply because they are LGBT. A majority of LGBT Americans live in these states, including large numbers of LGBT people of color and poor LGBT people.
Cathy Cha, the Haas, Jr. Fund’s president and CEO, said, “We believe strongly that protecting LGBT people from discrimination is not a political issue, it is a moral one—and now is the time for action.”
Working together, the Haas, Jr. Fund and its partners have raised $7 million to support national and state groups that are part of a nonpartisan campaign coordinated by Freedom for All Americans Education Fund. Other philanthropic supporters include the Ford, Galvan, Gill, Horizons, Overbrook, and Pride foundations. Corporate contributors include AT&T, CREDO Mobile, Dell Technologies, IBM, and Salesforce.
These grants are supporting Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, as well as groups focused on public education and outreach in more than 12 states, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia. The goal of the work is to build awareness among policymakers and their constituents about the profound and often lifelong harms caused by anti-LGBT discrimination and stigma.
In spite of the political stalemate on so many issues in Washington, DC, the Fund and its partners see a narrow window for progress this year. The partners’ optimism is based on overwhelming, bipartisan public support for nondiscrimination protections, President Biden’s decision to make nondiscrimination a high priority for his administration, and significant support from senators on both sides of the aisle.
Three years ago, the Haas, Jr. Fund made securing federal protections against LGBT discrimination a strategic priority; since then, it has supported nonprofit partners to pursue a range of activities, from on-the-ground organizing and canvassing to research, advertising and more. To date, Freedom for All Americans Education Fund has organized more than 150 meetings between federal policymakers and their staffs and LGBT constituents, parents, clergy, corporate leaders, and social service providers.
Foreman said the Haas, Jr. Fund is following the campaign playbook that was so successful in pushing the marriage equality issue over the finish line, including the importance of having an anchor organization in charge of coordinating nationwide efforts. Another core strategy: sparking heart-to-heart conversations about what discrimination looks like, how it feels, and what it costs all of us.
“Our grantees aren’t engaging in a partisan chess game,” said Matt Foreman, director of the Fund’s LGBT Equality Program. “Instead they are talking from the heart about the real-world, lifelong consequences of anti-LGBT discrimination and bias. The responses from elected officials has been overwhelmingly positive.”