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A group of LGBTQ+ activists gathered at the Connecticut state legislature on Monday to celebrate the formation of Equality Connecticut, a new queer-led organization focused on social justice.
“Equality Connecticut is built around the principles of power and joy. We will advocate for positive change, celebrate the LGBTQIA+ communities in the state, cultivate financial resources to support all LGBTQIA+ organizations, and expand a sense of belonging for every community member,” said Matt Blinstrubas, executive director of Equality Connecticut, in a press release.
He told The Advocate that the group is proactive against any right-wing encroachment on LGBTQ+ rights in the state.
“Regardless of [there being] a threat or a particular policy issue or a challenge or opportunity to react to, there should always be a presence in the Capitol and around the state of LGBT people organizing for our rights and our health,” he said.
He explained that the LGBTQ+ community can mobilize and has a role in showing up for social justice across the board and making the state more inclusive, welcoming, and equitable for everybody.
“There will always be a need for queer folks in the Capitol and around the state helping our elected leaders develop policies which we’re really excited to be in this position to help improve,” he said.
Equality Connecticut, according to Blinstrubas, fills a long-standing void in LGBTQ+ legislative representation in Connecticut.
He explained that while there have been smaller LGBTQ+ organizations that have successfully advocated for LGBTQ+ issues in the past, this is the first statewide, all-encompassing LGBTQ+ political organization in Connecticut.
Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, a California-based nonprofit for progressive causes, is fiscally sponsoring Equality Connecticut and hiring a full-time senior organizer, Blinstrubas said.
State Rep. Jeff Currey, a Democrat and one of a handful of out LGBTQ+ members of the state legislature, welcomed the new group’s creation.
He said that while attitudes in his state are generally more open, there still is a need for statewide LGBTQ+ advocacy.
“Don’t let Connecticut fool you,” Currey warned during an interview with The Advocate. Connecticut, while usually a left-leaning state, still has pockets where, according to Currey, “folks live and exist to diminish our light and our community and try to invalidate and erase us.”
He said, “There is this constant battle. It doesn’t happen to be as pervasive as in states where much hate spreads a bit more, but it exists.”
Some of the group’s immediate goals are to expand LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the state’s suicide prevention program, support the proposed Fertility Access CT, or FACT, legislation which ensures coverage of fertility care services for LGBTQ+ people and support measures that provide access to gender-affirming healthcare services throughout the state.
“We believe that everyone should have freedom and control over their own bodies and lives. Everyone deserves access to the full range of health services, including sexual and reproductive health care and education,” Gretchen Raffa of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England and Equality Connecticut advisory board member said.
Kia A. Baird, a founding member of OutCT and Secretary of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) New London County, also serves on the advisory board. “We come to this work with an understanding that LGBTQIA people are multifaceted and have intersecting ways in which they show up in the world," Baird said. "We’ll seek alliances and campaigns that lift everyone up.”
She added, “Endeavoring to create an environment that empowers people to continue the fight for a world that is both just and equitable.”