April 14, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 15
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Thursday, Jan 21, 2021



by Brie Gyncild

People sometimes say there are two Washingtons - one on each side of the mountains. But at Equal Rights Washington, we recognize that there are many more communities, with subtle and important cultural differences. Statewide decisions are made by individual voters and the people they've chosen to represent them in Olympia. For example, the political culture in Sequim isn't the same as that in Walla Walla, Vancouver, or Ballard. Forty-nine legislative districts each have their own senator, representatives, and voters-and each has its own character.

To make a lasting change in attitudes toward the LGBT community, we know that we need to reach out in each of those 49 districts. And the people who know those districts best, the people who understand what motivates them and what they care about, are the people who live there. Real change happens when neighbors talk to neighbors, friends talk to friends, family members talk to each other. That's why Equal Rights Washington is organizing Equality Teams in districts throughout the state.

Equality Teams are groups of ERW volunteers who work in their home communities to educate voters, raise awareness of LGBT issues, and organize local volunteers and events. Equality Teams also help ERW develop effective strategies for specific communities.

We've been recruiting Equality Team leaders and working with them to develop the role of Equality Teams. Now we're excited to move to the next step: recruiting Equality Team members and mobilizing them. To that end, Equality Teams are beginning to hold kickoff meetings to introduce members to the Equality Team leader, each other, and ERW.

The 43rd legislative district, here in Seattle, held its kickoff meeting last week. It was an energizing meeting, where individuals with a wide range of political experience came together to discuss the current political climate for LGBT issues, learn how ERW is working on those issues, and talk about how they can get involved and work together to organize their home district.

ERW has three main priorities this year. We're working closely with the Washington Won't Discriminate campaign to defend the anti-discrimination bill Governor Gregoire passed into law in January; we're working to elect fair-minded legislators to support our community in Olympia; and we're educating people now about the marriage decision so that we can defend a positive decision when it arrives. Equality Teams will be key to achieving all three of these goals.

Each team will have a large say in which tools they use in their community and how they organize. Most Equality Teams will collect testimonies supporting marriage equality for the book we'll distribute to the legislature, and they'll gather signed postcards to show individual legislators support for full marriage equality. In some districts, they'll recruit volunteers to join them in walking door-to-door to have honest conversations about our lives and the damage anti-Gay measures do to real families. In other communities, they'll join other volunteers in phoning likely voters to talk with them about the referendum. Some Equality Teams may host workshops for people who need resources to come out safely at home or at work. In others, they may start campaigns to write letters to the editor of the local paper. The strategies each Equality Team uses will differ, but their impact will be similar. In each case, we'll be educating voters and our own community, changing the conversation, and moving toward full equality.

If you'd like to join the Equality Team in your district, or to learn more about Equality Teams, email or call our office at 206-324-2570. You can help make history happen here in Washington State.

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