News » Glbt

MassEquality Board votes to expand mission

by Susan Ryan-Vollmar
Sunday Nov 4, 2007

On Sat., Nov. 3, the MassEquality Board of Directors voted to expand the organization's mission by working closely with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders to help bring civil marriage rights to the rest of the New England states and to work with Massachusetts-based LGBT organizations on passing legislation and securing funding to help them with their goals.

The vote came after a three-month planning process during which the board hired Jack Regan of Metis Consulting to solicit input from the LGBT public, MassEquality donors and national LGBT leaders on what they wanted from MassEquality. The organization also held a "World Caf?" Oct. 15 at the Hynes Convention Center during which 100 Bay State LGBT leaders talked about what they wanted from MassEquality.

During recent weeks, the debate about what to do with the organization on the MassEquality board became contentious. A copy of a 16-page report by Regan on the results of his interviews with 12 MassEquality stakeholders was leaked to Bay Windows. Information about the organization's finances, including that it has been spending $100,000 a month since June, when the legislature defeated an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, was leaked to the Boston Globe. And an email sent by MassEquality Campaign Director Marc Solomon to Board Chair David Wilson that was CC'd to the entire board was leaked to KnowThyNeighbor. In his email, Solomon charged, "Someone (or someones) are trying to take this organization down in the press by leaking sensitive and proprietary financial information, information available only to board members." He further demanded that Wilson conduct an investigation to determine the identity of the leaker and demand that person's resignation from the board.


In a press release issued at 6:05 p.m. Nov. 3, MassEquality announced its new mission:

BOSTON -- MassEquality.org, the statewide coalition-based organization that successfully protected marriage equality in Massachusetts, announced today that it will expand its mission, while reiterating its top priority will remain protecting equal marriage rights in Massachusetts. The expanded mission will include supporting other states in winning equal marriage rights while assisting other Massachusetts organizations on issues of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Massachusetts residents.

The decision followed months of a strategic planning process that included community meetings, a survey of its membership, and discussions with stakeholders and donors. It was affirmed in a vote by the Board of Directors at a special meeting today.

"MassEquality has grown from an idea to one of the most successful grassroots political organizations in the state," said MassEquality Campaign Director Marc Solomon. "It seemed logical as well as responsible to take the strength and expertise we've built and assist others, whether here or elsewhere, to protect vulnerable citizens and expand marriage equality beyond our borders."

The organization, with 200,000 members, has an expanded mission that includes three goals:

Continuing to protect marriage equality in Massachusetts by working to re-elect all pro-equality legislators, supporting pro-equality candidates, and fighting any future anti-marriage amendments.

Supporting other states in winning marriage equality by working with GLAD and state-based marriage equality organizations with their political, field, communications and fundraising efforts.

Promoting LGBT equality in Massachusetts by beginning to partner with other LGBT organizations to advance important legislation on other issues affecting the LGBT community.

"This was an exhaustive process and although some of these discussions weren't easy, there was overwhelming support across the board from organizations, members, elected officials, stakeholders and donors to expand our mission," said David Wilson, MassEquality Board Chair.

"MassEquality plans to go only where we can add value and where we're asked to help," added Wilson. "We're looking forward to partnering with GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) and other state organizations to support marriage equality efforts, and we'll be here to begin supporting organizations working on other aspects of equality to accomplish their objectives."

The press release was followed up an hour later by an email from Solomon to MassEquality's email distribution list:

This afternoon, the Board of Directors met to make a final decision about the future goals and mission of MassEquality. This followed a comprehensive and inclusive strategic planning process, including meetings with local and national LGBT leaders, donors, and other stakeholders, a community forum, and a survey of more than 3,000 members.

Our top priority is and will always be protecting marriage equality in Massachusetts. To that end, we'll be working hard in 2008 to re-elect all of the 151 legislators who voted with us on June 14th and to add to the ranks of our friends in the legislature.
In addition, MassEquality will now extend its reach in two critical ways, including sharing its expertise and resources in the region to secure marriage beyond our borders.

Working with GLAD, national organizations and other marriage equality organizations, MassEquality will support other states in securing equal marriage rights. This work will include consulting as needed on political, field, fundraising, electoral and communications efforts; helping other marriage organizations build their internal capacities; and developing and exporting a "Best Practices" manual developed by our staff.

MassEquality will begin to advocate for and assist on other issues of LGBT equality in Massachusetts. We're looking forward to beginning partnerships with LGBT organizations which request our help to advance important and critical work. We will need the help of you, our advocates, and our affiliate organizations around the state to be successful in this undertaking.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments and suggestions throughout this process. We've received an enormous amount of support for these expanded goals -- from other LGBT organizations, from our close allies in the legislature, and, most importantly, from all of you. We're thankful for your trust and dedication.

Over the next few weeks, we will be in touch with more details about our new agenda and how you can help.

Here at MassEquality, we are all incredibly excited about these next big steps -- and we're ready to get to work! We hope that you are, too, and that you will join us in these important new endeavors.

Copyright Bay Windows. For more articles from New England's largest GLBT newspaper, visit www.baywindows.com


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