Equality Federation supports state level activists

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KNOXVILLE – Breaking new ground as the first executive director of the Equality Federation, Tony Broaddus brings a dynamic presence to the effort to build a national coalition of statewide GLBT organizations.

Recognizing that the battleground for many important issues, such as marriage equality, employment nondiscrimination and parental custody/adoption, has shifted from the federal level to state arenas, the Equality Federation (EF) understands the need to deal with the particular concerns of state level-organizing. Addressing issues such as funding, low visibility, lack of professional staff and equipment, along with the isolation that frequently exists in less densely populated areas, the Federation plans to provide vital support with organizational infrastructure, such as fundraising software, and educational opportunities around topics including lobbying, organizing and promoting proactive legislative agendas.

Their workshops include training on how to set up 501(c) 3, 501(c) 4, and PAC structures for non-profits and political organizations. They assist in voter identification and field organizing along with the how-to for setting up and running a political campaign. They assist with understanding the rules of compliance with PAC regulations to effectively use that structure for electing GLBT supported officials.

“We need to think about how important it is to support local and state organizations, not just national groups. We need to start to support the groups in our own backyards,” Broaddus urged.

That is not to say that the Federation ignores nationally based groups. For example, they have a good working-relationship with the Human Rights Campaign. EF collaborated with them on their “Standing up for Equality: A Joint Report on the Impact of Marriage-Related Votes on State Legislative Races” published in Jan. 2005. The information contained in that report decisively showed that pro-marriage equality legislators were re-elected in almost every part of the country.

More than 58 organizations in 45 states are Federation members. Here in Tennessee , our own Tennessee Equality Project is a proud Federation member.

The Federation is now nearly nine years old and, in a move toward professionalization, has hired Tony to be their point person. Her vision includes a plan to facilitate networking between state activists.

“We are stronger when we learn from each other,” Broaddus stated. “In the last few years, we have seen movement away from a federal emphasis and toward the states. We hope to bring resources to help secure our civil rights in every state and territory.”

The Federation hosts an annual summer meeting. This year’s meeting will be held Aug. 4 – 7 in Louisville , Kent . Previous meetings have been held in Texas and Utah with a new location planned each year.

You can find the Equality Federation online at www.equalityfederation.org.