Equality Colorado to shut down after eight years

Equality Colorado, which once stood at the forefront of the gay rights movement in Colorado, is being forced by budget troubles to close, The Denver Post reports. Equality Colorado is the only statewide gay rights organization, but leaders say its most important functions, including lobbying, will continue with the help of volunteers. The eight-year-old organization was formed to inform the public about Amendment 2, the 1992 measure that would have banned local laws from protecting gays from discrimination. Though approved by a majority of the state’s voters, the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional in 1996. The campaign helped turn Equality Colorado into a defender of gay rights, advocating for the creation of an antiviolence program, training of law enforcement officers about hate crimes, and outreach to religious groups. Still, the organization’s financial situation remained tenuous. “It has been hard to raise funds around political work. We had too many donors and were spreading ourselves too thin,” said board member Greg Beck. “I call it donor apathy. People in their 20s and 30s just aren’t giving to causes.” The group’s biggest supporter is the Gill Foundation, which gives $80,000–$100,000 a year. Sue Anderson, former executive director and one of the group’s founders, said Equality should have tried building a stronger donor base. “It’s sad to see the demise of Equality Colorado, but if the [gay] community doesn’t think it’s that important, then there isn’t the support. The community needs to think about that.” The organization’s lobbying will continue under a new nonprofit called Equal Rights Colorado, with a $50,000 budget. Equality Colorado’s antiviolence program will become its own organization under the umbrella of the Colorado Non-Profit Development Center.

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