Prioritizing & Partnering to Win Equality

State of the States: Part 4

Equality Federation member organizations know how to be successful. Ask any state leader the recipe to winning, and somewhere in their response will be the importance of working with partners.

In ways large and small, strategic partnerships are the life-blood of LGBTQ work. This year we saw the culmination of a decade of creative partnerships with the marriage equality victory at the Supreme Court. A review of the amicus briefs submitted in the Obergefell case shows a stunning example of the power of partners: from people of faith to people of color, from mayors to first responders.

Thanks to new partnerships that our members have forged, we also saw the defeat of anti-LGBT bills around the country, as well as the passage of inclusive local nondiscrimination ordinances and enhanced protections for transgender people.

More than 80% of our member organizations reported working with national LGBT partners over the course of 2015. The nationals most partnered with include: ACLU, Freedom for All Americans, Freedom to Marry, GLSEN, GSA Network, HRC, Lambda Legal and National LGBTQ Task Force.

Partnering with other LGBTQ organizations will always be essential, but more and more, we see our members also partnering more broadly. This year we have a growing number of states where campaigns to win nondiscrimination protections have required outreach beyond the usual allies, with large and small business partnerships topping the list. Equality Florida’s Equality Means Business has been a hugely successful model of this kind of effort and one that the organization has helped colleagues in other states to replicate.

Some of the most exciting new partnerships have their focus in issues that have not been traditionally been seen as LGBT issues:

  • Last year Equality North Carolina began a two-year collaboration with the NAACP of NC and other racial justice and immigrant rights groups.
  • This year, Equality New Mexico and Equality Ohio were profiled in a report called The New Now: Working Together for Social ChangeAccording to the report, another “thread” of activism that has developed alongside the work for marriage equality and nondiscrimination is one that sees “…LGBT rights as part of other fights, such as fair immigration policies, police reform, reproductive justice, and addressing climate change.”
  • And the Federation, working with the Advancement Project and GSA Network, produced a cutting edge report appropriately entitled Power in Partnerships: Building Connections at the Intersections to End the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

The top legislative priorities for our members in the coming year include both offensive and defensive work. Whether working to defeat harmful religious exemptions or to pass laws that keep young people safer in schools, doing that work in partnership with both traditional and non-traditional allies is a key to our movement’s success in 2016.


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Anne Stanback

Anne Stanback is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Equality Federation, the movement builder and strategic partner to state-based organizations winning equality in the communities we call home. Anne’s primary focus is working with states to develop plans, strategies and resources to pass laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

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