Equality California

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Equality California
Equality California logo.gif
Map of USA CA.svg
U.S. State of California
Founded 1998
Key people John O'Connor, executive director
Area served California
Formerly called California Alliance for Pride and Equality (CAPE) and Marriage Equality California
Website eqca.org

Equality California or EQCA is a non-profit civil rights organization that advocates for the rights of LGBT people in California. The organization is a member of the Equality Federation.[1]

History and leadership[edit]

Early history[edit]

The California Alliance for Pride and Equality (CAPE) began in 1998, and the CAPE Foundation was launched in 2000 to expand education and outreach efforts. In 2003, the organizations became Equality California, the EQCA Institute and EQCA Political Action Committee. During that time, the organization grew exponentially under the new leadership of Executive Director Geoffrey Kors, Board President John Duran, PAC President Diane Abbitt and Institute President Jody Cole.

Merger with MECA[edit]

In 2004, EQCA merged with a similar organization working on LGBT rights called Marriage Equality California in order to better coordinate efforts to pass marriage equality legislation in California. Prior to the merger MECA existed as the California based grassroots organizing wing of their national counterpart Marriage Equality USA.[2] While EQCA efforts were focused primarily on top level legislative lobbying and media efforts, Marriage Equality California had an extensive network of local activists all over the state organizing around the issue of marriage equality at the grassroots level.

From Marriage Equality USA, EQCA subsumed both the local grassroots organizing chapters of MECA throughout California, as well as hiring their volunteer leadership to become the field staff.[3] The new consolidated programs became a co-branded joint project of EQCA and MECA under the direction of Molly McKay and Geoffrey Kors.

For several years local chapters and staff worked as part of the joint project, until eventually the decision was made to drop joint branding and the program became the Equality California field team.

Significant activities and programs[edit]

EQCA at the Los Angeles LGBT pride parade in 2011

Equality California[edit]

EQCA has sponsored and helped lobby for the passage of more than 85 bills supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in the California Legislature, including the nation’s first same-sex marriage bill approved by a legislative body (AB 849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno, D-San Francisco). On behalf of its members, EQCA was the organizational plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lambda Legal and several law firms challenging California’s marriage laws that exclude same-sex couples. The California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008 ruled that all Californians have the freedom to marry. The landmark decision ended the state ban on marriage for same-gender couples. Same-gender couples were able to marry as of June 16, 2008.

Equality California Institute[edit]

Equality California Institute educates LGBT people and the public at large about issues impacting the LGBT community and our allies. EQCAI empowers and organizes individuals, communities and allied groups to work proactively for fairness, equality and justice.[4]

EQCAI leads Let California Ring, a public education campaign to open hearts and minds about the freedom to marry, and the Equality Alliance, a broad coalition of LGBT and non-LGBT groups working together to further human rights. The Institute also directs the LGBT Health and Human Services Network and is a sponsor of the California Transgender Leadership Summit and Queer Youth Advocacy Day.

Let California Ring[edit]

Let California Ring was a public education designed to campaign for open hearts and minds about the freedom to marry and the respect, support, protections, and responsibilities that come with marriage. Let California Ring was a project of Equality California Institute, working in a diverse coalition of over 60 national, state and local organizations.[5]

Political action committees[edit]

Equality California’s Political Action Committee advocates for candidates who support full equality for all Californians and issues that protect the civil rights of all people, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). EQCA’s PACs also work to fight efforts that could delay LGBT progress toward full equality.

NO on 8 – Equality California[edit]

NO on 8 – Equality California worked in conjunction with NO on 8, Equality for All, and a coalition of diverse organizations that worked to defeat Proposition 8. Prop. 8 was the 2008 Primary Election ballot initiative that denied same-sex couples the right to marry under California law. EQCA is a founding member of Equality for All and is one of the campaign’s significant contributors.

Equality California Candidate PAC[edit]

EQCA’s Candidate PAC endorses candidates it identifies as fair-minded and supports the campaigns of policy leaders who advocate the fair and equal treatment of all Californians, including those who identify as LGBT. The Candidate PAC works to expand the number of equality-minded representatives in Sacramento, ensuring that the LGBT community can continue progress toward equality. EQCA’s Candidate PAC only endorses candidates that support equality for all members of the LGBT community 100 percent of the time.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]