Op-Ed: MassEquality’s Commitment is to a Grander Vision

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By: Various Community Organization Leaders*—

[Bay Window’s editor] Sue O’Connell’s editorial on December 17, “Is it Time for MassEquality to Retire?” asks the wrong question. Instead, the question we should be asking is, “Are we as a community of LGBTQ and HIV-positive people up to the challenge of growing and innovating our movement, including our electoral and political advocacy, for the future?”

The answer to that question must be a resounding “yes” if we are to create a world that is even more just and affirming for our community, and if we are to ensure that equality is a lived reality for all in our community, and not just for some.

MassEquality has demonstrated its commitment to that grander vision. Although MassEquality began as an organization working to achieve marriage equality, their mission and work in this community over the past several years shows a deep and passionate commitment to equity for the entire LGBTQ community, and the Commonwealth as a whole. The work of LGBTQ advocacy benefits the larger landscape of the social justice movement, and with organizations like MassEquality, that movement is growing stronger. [pullquote]MassEquality has demonstrated its commitment to that grander vision. Although MassEquality began as an organization working to achieve marriage equality, their mission and work in this community over the past several years shows a deep and passionate commitment to equity for the entire LGBTQ community, and the Commonwealth as a whole.[/pullquote]

MassEquality has worked closely in coalition with our organizations and many others across the state to advocate for TRANSGENDER rights on the local and statewide level. The staff of MassEquality has been integral in the work to pass local ordinances for NONDISCRIMINATION, lending their powerful voice to this work in innumerable ways. With 11 jurisdictions in the Commonwealth voting in support of local ordinances that provide public ACCOMMODATIONS protections for transgender people, our community of advocates is primed to go into 2015 fighting for a statewide law that will ensure even more justice for our community.

MassEquality played a pivotal role in working with GOVERNOR Patrick to implement nondiscrimination policies based on gender IDENTITY and helping to pass the Transgender EQUAL Rights Bill.

The organization has also been a POWERFUL voice on issues facing our youth. With roughly 6,000 estimated unaccompanied HOMELESS youth in the Commonwealth, MassEquality has devoted itself to working in coalition with the state and several other organizations to tackle this epidemic. Nearly 40 percent of those youth identify as LGBTQ and MassEquality has played a PIVOTAL role in educating the public about this issue and finding RESOURCES for these youth. According to the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a CDC-funded survey of high school students in the Commonwealth, LGB youth are more than five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Now more than ever we need strong advocates who are willing to work in tandem with our Governor and the Legislature to address this issue.

It is vital that our community continues to have our own advocates at the state and local levels to make sure that our progress continues forward and not get rolled back. Our community needs an organization that is willing to lead our political advocacy and work with our elected officials to draw attention to and support the myriad MARGINALIZED groups that are not having their needs addressed. [pullquote]From those living with HIV/AIDS, to aging SENIORS, to communities of color struggling with crippling healthcare, and social and economic disparities, it is extremely important that MassEquality continue its frontline work of legislative and political advocacy.[/pullquote]

From those living with HIV/AIDS, to aging SENIORS, to communities of color struggling with crippling healthcare, and social and economic disparities, it is extremely important that MassEquality continue its frontline work of legislative and political advocacy.

We want to thank the MassEquality staff for their hard work in fighting for this future. We look forward to partnering in 2015 on our legislative priorities as we continue to advocate for the LGBTQ and HIV-positive community in the Commonwealth.

*Julian Cyr, Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth

*Julian Dormitzer, Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth

*Mason Dunn, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

*Carol Rose, ACLU

*Grace Sterling Stowell, Boston Alliance of LGBTQ Youth (BAGLY)

*Robert Trestan, New England Regional Anti-Defamation League

*Carl Sciortino, AIDS Action Committee

*Janson Wu, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)

[From a Letter to the Editor sent to TRT]

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