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Human Rights Campaign Expands Grassroots Effort, Looks to 2018

HRC expansion

Investing millions of dollars and hiring new staff, HRC hopes to influence congressional and gubernatorial races.

The Human Rights Campaign is taking the LGBT rights fight to the grassroots in hopes of influencing the 2018 races.

HRC today announced what it's calling "the biggest strategic investment" in its 37-year history, with an initiative called HRC Rising. The organization plans to add at least 20 full-time staffers to work on state and local issues, joining the two dozen already doing so, and working with 32 existing volunteer-led local steering committees. It will allocate $26 million to the effort.

"It's not enough to resist the hateful policies and attacks coming from the Trump-Pence regime -- we've got to accelerate the pace of progress toward full equality and secure protections for LGBTQ people in states and communities across the country. That's why we're going on offense with the largest grassroots expansion in HRC's 37-year history," said HRC president Chad Griffin in a press release.

"Our grassroots army of over 3 million has proven that, even in the face of unprecedented challenges, we can make incredible progress and defeat the hateful politicians who've been emboldened by Donald Trump when we organize and mobilize. The power and determination of the 10 million LGBTQ voters and our allies across America will only continue to grow stronger in the face of discriminatory attacks on our rights and freedoms."

HRC is well known for its work in Washington, D.C., but it has historically been involved in state and local matters as well. It worked with Equality North Carolina, for instance, in support of Democrat Roy Cooper's successful run for governor; he defeated incumbent Republican Pat McCrory, who had signed the state's anti-LGBT House Bill 2 into law and staunchly defended it. It turned out to be a key factor in McCrory's loss.

HRC Rising will work in all 50 states but will make what the press release calls "an especially strong, early push" in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada. "They're all swing states, most of which Trump won, and all have big 2018 Senate races as well as some potentially competitive governor's races," notes The Washington Post.

One of the races HRC will focus on is Democrat Tammy Baldwin's bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin. Baldwin, a lesbian, is the only member of the LGBT population in the chamber, and she may face a tough opponent, the Post reports. There are also many anti-LGBT U.S. House members HRC would like to defeat.

The organization points out that LGBT voters can be a powerful bloc when mobilized, with these voters credited as crucial to President Obama's reelection in 2012. HRC Rising will focus on allies as well, seeking to turn out what the group calls "pro-equality voters."

The election of Trump as president has motivated many of these voters, Griffin told the Post. "I think folks believed that after the Supreme Court ruled on marriage, that we were headed quickly toward a place of full equality in this country," he said. "And the president's attacks on our community -- and so many minority communities -- has served to be, in many ways, a great awakening of our democracy."

Griffin also emphasized the need to work across lines of identity. "LGBTQ people are Muslims," he told the Post, "so when he attacks Muslims, he's attacked our community. LGBTQ people are women, so when he tries to defund Planned Parenthood, that's an attack on LGBTQ people."

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