Empowering Spirits Foundation

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Empowering Spirits Foundation
Empowering Spirits Foundation Top large.jpg
The ESF logo symbolizing a ring of unity.
Motto Changing Hearts & Minds
Formation 2008
Headquarters San Diego, California, United States
Lisa Kove
Key people
A. Latham Staples, Chairman
Website https://web.archive.org/web/20090727074911/http://www.empoweringspirits.org:80/

The Empowering Spirits Foundation (ESF), Inc. is a national non-profit, non-partisan LGBT rights organization in the United States.[1][2][3][4][5]


Empowering Spirits Foundation Rally in San Diego, California

The Empowering Spirits Foundation is based in San Diego, California with chapters spread throughout the nation.[5][6][7] ESF members engage in service-oriented activities in communities typically opposed to LGBT rights.[2][8][9]

ESF programs include neighborhood revitalization, housing builds, canned food drives, and environmental cleanup; causes which allow for both sides to work together in what ESF calls a "positive environment." The programs take place in under-served areas or those conservative in nature as these are the people ESF is attempting to influence.[10]

Additionally, ESF is a visible entity in U.S. politics.[1][11]

History and leadership[edit]

The Empowering Spirits Foundation was established by A. Latham Staples in 2008 after the passage of Proposition 8 in California out of frustration as to how he thought LGBT rights organizations were approaching the gay rights issue.[1][11][12][13]

Staples said, "The day after the [passage of Proposition 8] various gay rights organizations attacked Christians, the LDS Church and minority groups. In my mind this intolerance only amplified the hate, it didn't create change,".[12] Staples, a long time activist, was laughed at when he suggested to one of those organizations that the LGBT community should foster dialogue with such groups instead of attacking them. Four days later ESF was established.[1][10][12]

On March 4, 2013 ESF announced Staples had stepped down as president of the organization as he had accepted the position of chief executive officer at PremloCare, Inc. (later renamed EXUSMED, Inc.), a healthcare company based in San Diego. He remains the chairman of ESF. Today ESF is headed by Lisa Kove, current president of the foundation and Executive Director of the Department of Defense Federal Globe.[14][15]


ESF volunteers build a new trail in the Gonzalez Canyon in San Diego, California.

Empowering Spirits Foundation members engage in service-oriented activities in communities throughout the nation. These events range from small events at nursing homes and food banks, neighborhood clean-up endeavors, and neighborhood restoration projects, to participation in large citywide rallies.[1][10]

Proud Hearts Reach Out[edit]

The Empowering Spirits Foundation held its first annual nationwide service-oriented event to promote LGBT rights called “Proud Hearts Reach Out” in conjunction with National Coming Out Day October 9, 2009.[16][17] The nationwide event was created in response to the California Supreme Court decision to uphold Proposition 8. Roughly 5,000 volunteers attended the ESF service events held across 36 states, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, MyOutSpirit.com, the American Cancer Society, and the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society.[18][19]

National Equality Rally[edit]

The Empowering Spirits Foundation, along with other LGBT organizations, co-organized the National Equality Rally which took place from April 27 through May 3, 2009 in Philadelphia, PA.[20] The rally featured a series of cultural programs, panels, parties and outdoor events, and a tribute to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom who is a proponent of gay rights.[21]

National recognition[edit]

Echoing Green[edit]

Echoing Green, an angel investor in social entrepreneurial organizations, announced it would fund ESF for two years. ESF was the only grantee selected from the category of "Civil & Human Rights" when Staples was named a 2010 Echoing Green fellow for “enacting innovative solutions that address root causes to social problems.”[22][23]


Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine[edit]

In May, 2009 the Empowering Spirits Foundation filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service to seek revocation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland’s tax exempt status.[24][25][26] This complaint was filed after Mark Mutty, the Diocese’s public affairs director, announced plans for the church to gather 55,087 signatures needed for a state referendum on same-sex marriage, in an attempt to overturn Maine’s new same-sex marriage law.[27] Mutty is quoted as calling the church’s action “one of the biggest grassroots movements in Maine history.”[28]

Erik Stanley, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, responding on behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, stated in a letter to ESF that the IRS allows tax-exempt organizations to "engage in lobbying activities, including advocating a position on a public referendum, without violating their tax-exempt status so long as the activity is not a substantial activity of the organization."[29]


  1. ^ a b c d e Empowering Spirits Foundation, Inc. "About ESF". Empoweringspirits.org. Archived from the original on 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  2. ^ a b Wiser Earth Organizations: Empowering Spirits Foundation Archived December 6, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "– Empowering Spirits Foundation". Idealist.org. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  4. ^ "Philadelphia.com". Philadelphia.com. Archived from the original on 2014-07-04. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Washington DC.com". Washington DC.com. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  6. ^ 90069 (2014-04-16). "Los Angeles Gay". Losangeles.com. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  7. ^ "San Francisco.com". San Francisco.com. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  8. ^ "Seattle.com". Seattle.com. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  9. ^ "Minneapolis.com". Minneapolis.com. Archived from the original on 2013-05-08. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  10. ^ a b c "Empowered to do good". Gay San Diego. 2010-07-03. Archived from the original on 2010-07-10. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  11. ^ a b "Empowering Spirits Foundation Founded After Passage of Prop. 8". Empowering Spirits Foundation Press Release. 2008-11-11. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  12. ^ a b c "The Empowering Spirits Foundation: Bridging the gap between the LGBT community and non-LGBT neighbors". San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. 2010-01-29. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  13. ^ "MyOutSpirit". MyOutSpirit. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  14. ^ San Diego LGBT Weekly (2013-03-04). "ESF founding president/CEO steps down, named CEO of PremloCare". LGBTWeekly.com. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  15. ^ Empowering Spirits Foundation, Inc. (2008-11-11). "Empowering Spirits Foundation | Lisa S. Kove". Empoweringspirits.org. Archived from the original on 2014-08-11. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  16. ^ "Freedom Jubilee created in response to Prop. 8 decision". Gay & Lesbian Times. 2009-05-27. Archived from the original on 2011-05-26. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  17. ^ "Proud Hearts Reach Out Created in Response to Prop. 8 Decision". Empowering Spirits Foundation Press Release. 2009-05-26. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  18. ^ "5,000 Plus Gays & Lesbians Help Local Communities Nationwide". Empowering Spirits Foundation Press Release. 2009-10-10. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  19. ^ "5,000 Plus Gays & Lesbians Help Local Communities Nationwide". My So Called Gay Life. 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2009-10-12. [permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Equality Forum honors Newsom, the New York Times". Edge. 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  21. ^ "Mayor Defends Same-Sex Marriages". CNN. 2004-02-22. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  22. ^ "Echoing Green To Fund Empowering Spirits For 2 Years, ESF President A. Latham Staples Named 2010 Fellow". Empowering Spirits Foundation Press Release. 2009-06-22. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  23. ^ "A. Latham Staples - Echoing Green Fellow". Echoinggreen.org. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  24. ^ "Maine Church Accused of Tax Law Violation". San Francisco Chronicle. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  25. ^ "Group Challenges Church Fight vs. Gay Weds". Boston Herald. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  26. ^ "Maine Diocese in Violation of Tax Law?". Advocate. 2009-05-21. Archived from the original on 2009-05-29. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  27. ^ "Gay Rights Group: Main Diocese Violating Tax Law". Salon Magazine. 2009-05-21. Retrieved 2009-05-22. [permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Maine drafts gay marriage ballot question". Dallas Voice. 2009-05-22. Archived from the original on 2009-05-29. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  29. ^ "Complaint Filed with IRS against Maine Diocese". National Catholic Reporter. 2009-05-29. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 

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