A first round of grants given to state-level gay rights organizations was issued by the nation's largest gay rights group on Monday. The Equality Fund grants for fiscal year 2004 were given by the Human Rights Campaign to 23 state advocacy groups working for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
equality. In addition to HRC staff and volunteer support, these grants will help organizations nationwide advance equality and stave off antigay political efforts, HRC said. "From thwarting anti-GLBT ballot measures in New Mexico to advancing relationship recognition that would protect families in Maryland to ensuring the safety of public students in Florida, these grants will support the important work of state GLBT advocacy groups across the country," said HRC national field director Seth Kilbourn. "The partnership we've formed with these groups is a priority for us at the Human Rights Campaign, and we will continue to contribute staff support, volunteer time, and important funds to groups fighting critical battles at the state level."
"In Wisconsin we are on the front lines of a battle to defeat a state Defense of Marriage Act that would prohibit same-sex couples from civil marriage and marginalize LGBT families," said Christopher Ott, executive director of Action Wisconsin. "The support that HRC has given us through the Equality Fund grant program could not have come at a better time."
Now in its fourth year, the Equality Fund has contributed a total of $472,500 to state GLBT organizations. Additional grants will be released in the coming months. State groups use the grants to organize, recruit, and train volunteers, register voters, hire lobbyists to advocate for and against GLBT-related legislation, produce voter guides, and organize town hall meetings to educate citizens about GLBT equality. This first round of grants--covering April 1, 2003, to March 31, 2004--totals $85,500 for the following 23 groups: Arkansas Equality Network, Love Makes a Family (Connecticut), Georgia Equality Project, Hawaii Civil Unions-Civil Rights Movement, Maine Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance, Free State Justice (Maryland), OutFront Minnesota, PROMO (Missouri), Pride Inc. (Montana), Equality Florida, Nebraska Advocates for Justice and Equality, Equal Rights Nevada, Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey, Coalition for Equality in New Mexico, Marriage Equality New York, South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement and the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Community Center, Equality North Carolina, Unity Utah, Equality Virginia, Fairness Lobby (Washington State), Indiana Equality, Action Wisconsin and The Triangle Foundation (Michigan).