{ICYMI} Unite Advocates at the State Level

photo by Nate Gowdy

by Chris Brown

As an LGBTQ person living in the United States, every day, I seem to wake up and wonder what will come at me today. What rights will be on the chopping block for my friends, and chosen family? What can I do in my everyday life to advocate for change? In Washington State and on the national stage we have the opportunity to have our voices heard by electing progressive folks to office. Folks who care about a women’s right to their body. LGBTQ folks who want to have the same protections as their heterosexual neighbors. As LGBTQ people, we live the intersectionality of cultural identity, gender identity, sexual orientation and so many other cross sections of our shared experience on this planet. Equity through representation at all levels of government and in our everyday lives is crucial to ensure our voice is being heard. If we do not have a voice at the table, we are on the menu.

In my years, I have advocated for a number of organizations including Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and Victory Fund, along with so many other organizations. Over the past 3 years I have become a supporter and now organizing committee member of Fighting for the Majority (FFM).

FFM was formed in 1998 after the Republican-controlled legislature passed the “Defense of Marriage Act” over Governor Locke’s veto, prohibiting recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples in Washington state. A dedicated group of gay and lesbian citizens recognized that if the LGBTQ community were to advance civil rights at the state level, they would need to get involved in the electoral process in a clear and powerful way. They decided to create a fundraiser to raise money for the Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate. The strategy had two purposes: to help the caucuses elect legislators who would stand for equality and to make sure that caucus leadership would remember the support of the LGBTQ community when making decisions about caucus priorities.

Our early struggles and eventual win with passage of a broad anti-discrimination law (2006), domestic partnerships, (2007-9), parentage, (2011), and marriage equality (2012) developed an ally base. To this day, the base of folks from marriage equality continue to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ folks and for women and minorities. Today, I’m supportive of FFM because we still have wins to secure. During the 2018 legislative session, the caucuses supported by FFM fought and won a ban on conversion therapy and an expansion of parentage rights for same-sex couples, including repeal of the ban on paid surrogacy in the State of Washington.

Each year FFM supporters gather to hear from the folks who are doing the work in office. We rally to ensure funding for future years and we assemble to be in the same room and work toward our next sessions and what work needs to be accomplished from our dedicated elected officials. This year we will be on-site at FareStart in Seattle on October 29 sharing wins from this session and asking for folks to support the future work of our progressive advocates in the house and senate.

We all advocate in our own ways. Supporting FFM is one way I know my voice will be heard in Olympia. Thank you so much to our leaders in the space including Jamie Pedersen, Marko Liias, Christine Kilduff, Frank Chopp, Mayor Jenny Durkan, Nicole Macri and Laurie Jinkins. Thank you also to our co-chairs for this year Thomas Pitchford & Linda DiLello Morton. Your tireless efforts in bringing FFM to the forefront are definitely appreciated. Please join us as you are able and advocate to ensure we can all unite at the state level to uplift the voices of LGBTQ folks.

Fighting for the Majority 2018 will be held Monday, October 29, from 5:30pm – 7:30pm at FareStart, located at 700 Virginia St. in downtown Seattle. To attend or sponsor the event, or for additional information visit our website, fightingforthemajority.com.

 

Chris Brown is the founder of Token Gay Guy Consulting focusing on Information Technology, Media & Marketing and Finance. He currently serves in the philanthropy sector as the Executive Chair for Out & Equal’s NW Regional Affiliate, Steering Committee Member Fighting for the Majority and Steering Committee Member Victory Fund & Victory Fund Institute.

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