Help me pick a marriage equality charity for donations
January 9, 2009 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good charity to list as a suggestion on our wedding registry. Specifically, one that works for marriage equality for everyone.

My darling fiancée and I have come to a happy compromise about how to handle our wedding registry, and it involves encouraging people to make a charitable contribution in lieu of a gift.

Our overall position is that we're delighted by any donation to almost any organization, but we intend to draw attention in particular to two: Habitat for Humanity and **BLANK**

I need your help picking the second one.

We would prefer an organization primarily working towards marriage equality. We'd be okay with one focused on dealing with the recent California and/or Florida propositions in particular, but would prefer one that has a nation-wide focus. We'd be okay with one that works for gay rights in general but would prefer they are focused on marriage rights and issues in particular.

I am unhappy with the work of the HRC on this issue so I'm not willing to use them for my specific suggestion. My darling found the organization Marriage Equality USA but I haven't found them in Guidestar and I'm not supporting a charity that I can't find a form 990 for.

Who should we list, and why?
posted by phearlez to Law & Government (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Why not go with the group with a winning track record? MassEquality is a good start.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:09 AM on January 9, 2009

The obvious choice is Human Rights Campaign, a large, well-known advocacy group that works for LGBT rights.
posted by crunchtopmuffin at 9:13 AM on January 9, 2009

Generally each state has its own group like MassEquality or here in CT, Love Makes a Family. Nationally you could think about The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force which works to "build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement."
posted by Rudy Gerner at 9:15 AM on January 9, 2009

The obvious choice is Human Rights Campaign, a large, well-known advocacy group that works for LGBT rights.

HRC is large and well known but not at all the obvious choice right now. They're HIGHLY controversial in the LGBT community at the moment for their exclusion of the transgender community in their work. That might matter or not, but it's why I didn't mention them-- people who are "in the know" on LGBT issues might not want to donate to them.
posted by Rudy Gerner at 9:17 AM on January 9, 2009

Yes, I wouldn't say that HRC is all the well-respected right now.
posted by Pants! at 9:48 AM on January 9, 2009

The poster has already rejected HRC and said so in the post. It wasn't so long ago that the HRC effictively turned its back on gay marriage and booted Cheryl Jacques.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:51 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Lambda Legal is my recommendation.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:29 AM on January 9, 2009

I think that Freedom to Marry is a great option and just what you're looking for.

It was started by Evan Wolfson who has been involved with the litigation of these issues for years in his former capacity at Lambda Legal. It suits your nationwide needs devoted solely to this issue.

Great idea!
posted by jasbet07 at 10:32 AM on January 9, 2009

Oh - and they have a gift registry for donations too.
posted by jasbet07 at 10:38 AM on January 9, 2009

Response by poster: I probably should have spelled out Human Rights Campaign rather than simply saying HRC. I don't want to get into a debate about their overall value, but since we're somewhat marriage-focused on this we've simply excised them from the running.

I'm similarly disinclined to use Lambda Legal because of their generalist approach. They do great work but it's across a lot of issues. Same for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. They might be a new place for my donor dollars to go rather than HRC but unless they have targeted donations I'm not sure they're my top choice for this purpose.

I'm looking into Freedom to Marry on Guidestar now. GS identifies them as being focused on MA and surrounding states but I've got their 2007 annual report open waiting to read up on their projects.

I've found Equality Florida and will do a little reading on them. They're not national, but I have family in Florida. I suppose we could list several organizations and have them as well as Mass Equality - we have guests coming from MA, and I am sure I could find their like in CA, MD, VA and WA. (I think that's all the states).

I appreciate everyone's input.
posted by phearlez at 11:46 AM on January 9, 2009

I have done work with Equality Texas and I admire the approach of the "Equality X" organizations - they usually focus not only on gay marriage, but other family rights issues, depending on the state. For example, EQTX does a lot of work advocating for gay couples who want to become adoptive parents, and works on developing safe learning environments for gay teens.

I mention this because you specifically asked for organizations targeted to gay marriage. Equality MD, VA, or WA may focus their time and money on other goals as well.
posted by muddgirl at 12:59 PM on January 9, 2009

The LGBT marriage equality groups are in huge flux and controversy right now. If I had to pick a political organization, I would give to whatever groups Molly McKay and/or Andrea Shorter (googling -- Marriage Equality USA and And Marriage for All, respectively) are working with now.

If I had to pick a legal advocacy group, I'd probably pick Lambda Legal. It's well-respected and not associated with any bad Prop 8 drama. (It's the group my ex and I listed for guests when I got straight-married in 2000.) NCLR is also very well-respected, though somewhat more intertwined with Prop 8 decisionmaking.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 4:12 PM on January 9, 2009

I always recommend the National Center for Lesbian Rights for this. I donate to them regularly, and we listed them for gifts when we got married. They do work on LGBT issues beyond marriage, but have been heavily involved in marriage equality across the country as well as here in California. I feel like they did a great job taking on the legal issues and court cases that actually got us legal marriage for a few months this year, and they'll do a lot of the work to get Prop 8 overturned in the courts. I'll echo Claudia's recommendation for And Marriage For All if you want to give to a marriage-only organization.

There are Equality [State] organizations across the country. Equality California. Georgia Equality. Equality Virginia.

I discourage people from giving to HRC whenever I can, but you're already there. I highly recommend NGLTF as a place to redirect your regular donations.

Congratulations on your wedding.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:11 PM on January 9, 2009

Response by poster: The conclusion we've come to is to suggest Freedom To Marry, though we may mention a few of the Equality * organizations that operate in the home states our some of our guests.

For the same of anyone else doing this kind of thing/research, I'll share the one thing that took me a little time to puzzle out: Freedom to Marry is a project of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation, which made doing some quality research harder. FTM files their own Form 990s, but there was no Charity Navigator entry for them.

If you want the Charity Navigator rating - which is excellent - you have to look at the Astreal Lesbian Foundation entry since FTM is a project of Astraea. One might make the argument that the 990 for FTM isn't 100% accurate since Astraea carries Evan Wolfson's salary on its 990, not FTMs, but I'm okay with the two reports taken together.

Thank you everyone for your assistance.
posted by phearlez at 11:43 AM on January 26, 2009

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