Equality California Updates Its Mission to Reflect Evolving Priorities

Equality California, the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization in California, today announced that it has updated its mission statement to more fully reflect the organization’s current and future focus.

While Equality California has historically focused the bulk of its efforts on achieving full equality for LGBT Californians by working for state level civil rights and pro-equality legislation and electing state-level, pro-equality candidates in California, the successes in achieving LGBT civil rights and protections in California allow the organization to focus on new priorities for the California’s LGBT community.

“As we successfully close the remaining gaps in our civil rights protections in California, our work is naturally evolving,” said Rick Zbur, EQCA executive director. “Going forward, we will use Equality California’s significant advocacy, education and mobilization capacity – along with its public policy and legislative expertise — to fight discrimination wherever it exists and advocate at all levels of government for programs that address the needs of the LGBT community.”

Equality California’s new mission reflects growth in three key areas: expanding the organization’s work on achieving full equality and acceptance for LGBT people to those outside of California as well as inside the state; ensuring the health and well being of LGBT Californians; and working for a fair and just society for everyone.

The most successful LGBT legislative advocacy organization in the nation, EQCA has sponsored and advanced more than 100 pieces of pro-equality legislation in the last 16 years. Partnering with social justice advocates, the faith community, businesses, grassroots supporters and legislative leaders, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT people to the state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation.

Building on this success, Equality California will use its unmatched effectiveness and expertise in legislative advocacy to work toward full and lasting equality for LGBT people both in California and across the nation. While most of the organization’s work has been within California, it has already begun to work for the full equality of LGBT people outside of California as well, from helping to turn back anti-LGBT legislation in Arizona, to advocating a boycott of the Dorchester Hotel Group, to successfully lobbying California’s pension fund, CalPERS, to divest from companies supporting torture of Russian LGBT youth.

This dovetails with Equality California’s ability to mobilize the power of California’s LGBT and ally communities to advance equality for LGBT people beyond California’s borders. Last month, EQCA successfully sponsored Assembly Joint Resolution 50, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, which called on the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration to end its discriminatory ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. It will also be launching a mobilization program and petition drive aimed at ending this discriminatory ban.

Second, recognizing that LGBT Californians continue to suffer from disproportionate rates of poverty, suicide, homelessness, lack of insurance, and violence, EQCA will dedicate more resources to ensuring the health and well being of California’s LGBT community.

Through generous grants from the California Endowment, EQCA Institute already operates the highly effective Health Happens With Equality program, which helps the LGBT community’s most underserved and vulnerable members, including young people of color, homeless persons, undocumented persons and the transgender population, to sign up for health insurance. Going forward, EQCA will consult with leaders of LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations to identify and prioritize key community needs and then deploy EQCA’s lobbying resources to ensure that programs receive adequate focus and funding in Sacramento.

Finally, Equality California believes in the core tenet of all civil rights movements, as articulated by Martin Luther King Jr.: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Equality California recognizes its intersectional role as part of the broader civil rights movement and will work to ensure a fair and just California for everyone.

One of EQCA’s first priorities in this area will be working with allies and partners to call for comprehensive immigration reform. This addresses an issue that is critical to the well-being of many of the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community, including recent immigrants and their families.

The revised mission statement was approved at the September 20 meeting of the boards of directors of Equality California and Equality California Institute, EQCA’s educational affiliate.

“Equality California is evolving to meet the needs of California’s LGBT community,” said Andreas Meyer and Joyce Rowland, board presidents of EQCA and EQCA Institute respectively. “We’re excited that the boards of directors have adopted a new mission statement for the organization that reflects its priorities — specifically to achieve full and lasting equality for LGBT people both inside and outside of California, to ensure the health and well being of the LGBT community in California and to advocate for a fair and just society for all people.”

Equality California’s complete revised mission statement is available on its website.

Equality California is California’s premier statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization focused on creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org