A national LGBT civil-rights organization launched a grassroots campaign to accelerate LGBT progress in the country ahead of the 2018 elections, focusing specifically on Pennsylvania and five other states.
The Human Rights Campaign last month unveiled HRC Rising, an effort to organize against the presidential administration and support pro-LGBT equality candidates.
In a statement, HRC President Chad Griffin noted this initiative as the largest grassroots expansion in the organization’s 37-year history.
“Our grassroots army of over 3million has proven that, even in the face of unprecedented challenges, we can make incredible progress and defeat the hateful politicians who’ve been emboldened by Donald Trump when we organize and mobilize,” Griffin said. “The power and determination of the 10-million LGBTQ voters and our allies across America will only continue to grow stronger in the face of discriminatory attacks on our rights and freedoms.”
Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof spoke with PGN about why Pennsylvania was selected for this campaign.
Winterhof noted Pennsylvania’s status as a swing state in presidential elections and the goal for it to swing toward a pro-equality president in the future. She added that Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D) has a pro-LGBT stance.
“It’s obviously an important race,” Winterhof said of Casey’s 2018 race. “He has been a leader for the LGBTQ community and we want to see him re-elected. There are opportunities locally in the state and in municipalities.”
Winterhof said HRC has been meeting with Equality Pennsylvania, the state’s LGBT-advocacy organization, to determine specific mobilization strategies.
John Dawe, Equality PA’s managing director and interim chief professional officer, said he’s unsure what the relationship between HRC and Equality PA will look like, but is confident the joining of the respective state and national focuses of the organizations will be beneficial.
“One of the things that this brings to the table is the ability for us to partner with a really well-known organization in the fight for LGBTQ equality,” Dawe said. “So we’re looking forward to having those resources alongside us as we continue working on [these issues].”
Winterhof said locals can also get involved by texting “Rising” to 30644. Additionally, HRC is hiring a state manager to organize these strategies. The full-time position, a description of which can be found on HRC's website, will last approximately through the end of November 2018.
Winterhof noted the importance of early organizing.
“We really are committed to figuring out how to work earlier in states and not just show up in those last three or four months [before an election] and mobilize our members and supporters,” Winterhof said. “If a person hasn’t been a volunteer before in an election, we want them to do that this time. We really want to mobilize down to the grassroots level.”
In addition to Pennsylvania, HRC will also target five other states with large numbers of HRC members and supporters: Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin.