Letter from Tim Sweeney
President and CEO
Forty years ago this past June, the gay rights movement was launched when patrons at the Stonewall Inn in New York City decided to stand their ground against the pervasive intimidation and discrimination they constantly faced. We will forever be in their debt.
Over the past four decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans have made a tremendous amount of progress on the road to full equality. As someone who’s been involved in this social justice movement for more than three decades, the past eighteen months have been among the most exciting.
In 2008, the Gill Foundation dedicated $16.8 million to the cause of equality, including $10 million in grants. In 2009, we plan to dedicate approximately $16.2 million, including $9 million in grants, in spite of our losses in the market.
The goal of our work is straightforward: we want to create an America in which all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, are treated and protected equally. Here are some highlights of the work of both the Gill Foundation and the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado during 2008.
As LGBT citizens, we seek the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of American life. We believe that these opportunities come about only after LGBT Americans have been able to gain important legal protections and societal acceptance in five key areas: a healthy self; family; career; society; and spirituality.
As part of our annual report, we’ve compiled some examples of the inspired work being done by our partners in these five areas as well as the reason why we fund this important work:
Healthy Self - The Anti-Defamation League’s “No Place for Hate’’ program gives kids an appreciation for the importance of diversity and mutual respect. Groundspark continued its visionary work by launching its latest film, “Straightlaced – How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up.” These two programs are good examples of the strong foundations that young people need to grow into healthy adults. The brutal murder of transgender teenager Angie Zapata last year in Greeley, Colorado, made the rationale for our work in this area crystal clear. Following her murder, Angie’s killer referred to this vibrant and courageous young lady as “it” and was recorded saying that “all gay things must die.” The conviction of her murderer this past April is thought to be the first successful prosecution of a trans-related hate crime.
Family - The National Center for Lesbian Rights, among others, successfully pursued a California Supreme Court case that resulted in marriage equality in the Golden State. In anticipation of this landmark ruling, the Equality California Institute launched “Let California Ring,’’ a groundbreaking public education campaign that allowed us to share stories of our lives and our loves with other Californians. Despite the fact that marriage was only in place for five months, the Williams Institute provided rigorous research to document California’s 18,000 same-sex marriages.The loss in California last November was horrible. But within six months of our defeat, same-sex marriage was made legal in four additional states: Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. As exciting as these victories are, 62 percent of Americans live in states that do not recognize same-sex relationships.
Throughout this letter, you’ll find useful information and links beyond the written text. Click on the highlighted text for additional information and links.