Frequently Asked Questions
Who started GetEQUAL and why?
Kip Williams and Robin McGehee created the initial idea of GetEQUAL in October of 2009. After coordinating the National Equality March (NEM), Kip and Robin were interested in applying political and social pressure to push forward the big-ticket legislation that the LGBTQ community has been promised time and again by using bold online and offline direct action as a tactic to push for full federal LGBTQ equality.
Kip and Robin felt that the ideal next step would be to bring together organizers from the NEM, other organizers who were active within their states, and leaders from different social movements who have used direct action as a tactic to push for change. This retreat was called the "Radical Minds Retreat" and was held at the Highlander Center in Knoxville, TN, in January 2010. There, the group discussed history and lessons from different social movements, the current climate within LGBTQ organizing, potential targets and tactics, and possible next steps. In March 2010, GetEQUAL launched with a community of organizers who were ready and willing to take action across the country. Those involved with the GetEQUAL community are tired of the delays, excuses, and empty promises from legislators and leaders who should be fighting for, demanding, and achieving moral justice and legal equality for LGBTQ people who experience and suffer from inequality.
Where are your financial documents?
The 2010 IRS Form 990 for GetEQUAL Action (our c4 entity) can be found here.
The 2011 IRS Form 990 for GetEQUAL Action can be found here.
For other financial documents, please email Heather Cronk, GetEQUAL co-director, by clicking here.
How are decisions made?
Each decision about campaigns and actions is made by working with and seeking consultation from leaders and organizers associated with different advocacy groups, political insiders, LGBTQ and mainstream media representatives, community organizers, and those taking action themselves. After all information is gathered, we only take action with consensus within the group that is taking action.
Who’s accountable for GetEQUAL’s actions? Who is in charge?
Angela Peoples and Heather Cronk are the co-directors of GetEQUAL, and are accountable for ensuring that the organization reaches its goals. The board of directors holds Angela and Heather accountable to that job responsibility, so they are ultimately accountable to the board.
Who is on the board, and how/why were they chosen?
Each individual who was chosen for the board of directors brings a diverse perspective from their own experience as grassroots organizers and movement leaders. While many nonprofit boards are filled with donors, we chose to create a board that can give us strategic advice from an activist perspective. We have asked people to join our board who have their feet firmly planted in grassroots organizing, and who represent a wide variety of viewpoints on organizing in order to lend a wide array of opinions on GetEQUAL’s work. Bios for the GetEQUAL staff and for provisional board members can be found HERE.
How many members do you have and what is the criteria for becoming a member?
GetEQUAL does not currently offer paid membership, so we do not have “members.” GetEQUAL counts as supporters all those who have expressed interest in taking online or offline action with us, which includes those on our email list, our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, and those who have taken action with us in person. As we move forward, we will ask our supporters to do more — to organize online, to organize offline, and even to donate to our ongoing work. More important than anything else, we are interested in offering our supporters a multitude of ways to take action and to “own” their equality. Many LGBTQ organizations have asked too little of the community and of our allies — GetEQUAL hopes to be able to mobilize a critical mass of people who are willing to take action in their own community and to support the actions of others who are fighting for full legal and social equality.
STRATEGY & TACTICS
What is GetEQUAL’s strategy and what are the results you must achieve to be successful?
The guiding principles behind our strategic theory of change can be viewed at HERE. We will not consider ourselves successful until full federal equality is realized by all LGBTQ people living in the United States. We will know we have organized successfully when more grassroots direct action groups are taking the fight for equality into their own hands and are organizing the critical mass needed to produce the change we desire and have been promised. We are currently outlining the metrics for our 2015 campaigns, and will post much more specific indicators of success shortly.
Won’t using direct action make our allies angry?
Our goal is to work toward building a critical mass of people who are unwilling to accept the idea that LGBTQ people will be equal under the law in another generation -- we need equality, and we need it now. Direct action, as a tactic, is part of a broader organizing strategy that has the potential to upset and even anger some of our allies -- but no social change has been gained without similar tensions. If we do not anger our allies, we are bound to continue receiving the minimal change we have currently accepted as “major” progress. Political niceties aren't a concern when transgender women of color are being murdered every week. Political niceties aren't a concern when rural LGBTQ folks are living desperate, isolated lives on the brink of suicide. Political niceties aren't a concern when LGBTQ immigrants are being placed in solitary confinement and tortured by our own government in an effort to get them to "self-deport." Let us not forget this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., as he sat thoughtfully contemplating his position in a Birmingham jail: “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”
How do you know if you have been effective or not?
We are working on creating a set of “empowerment metrics” that will help us to measure the impact of GetEQUAL’s organizing model of individual activists -- empowering LGBTQ individuals and our allies is a primary part of our mission. Additionally, GetEQUAL tracks the perceived impact that campaigns and actions have on legislation and on social issues. While it is difficult to draw “causation” in a legislative environment, we are tracking the “correlation” of our actions with legislative progress, which we learn from watching level/depth of media coverage, changes in media/organizing narrative, intelligence from other advocacy groups and political insiders, and progress on legislative and social targets.
Have you been effective?
In short, yes. While our work is certainly not the only cause for movement on LGBTQ gains, it is clear from media coverage and from reports from our allies that our work has helped create the political will for movement on LGBTQ issues. The nature of direct action is that the true impact isn’t known until well after the fact, if ever at all -- part of the responsibility of those using direct action, as part of a larger organizing strategy, is to forecast possible impacts and to track progress in order to report back to the community. Targets of direct action, in order to hold on to power, must pretend to act as if they are not moved by those tactics -- otherwise, their power structure would crumble when others followed suit. Past uses of direct action took months and years to catch on nationally, but were instrumental in creating the moral and political tension necessary to elicit change.
What is your ultimate goal? How does direct action achieve that?
Our ultimate goal is to acquire full federal LGBTQ equality -- settling with nothing less than equal protection in all matters governed by civil law. We also have a moral obligation to respond to social inequality and understand completely that once we are fully equal, our community will continue to suffer from the social discrimination and backlash that always accompanies progress.
Our strategy to get there is to create the critical mass needed to organize direct actions that lead to moments of crisis in existing power structures -- moments that result in more power for our allies in the movement and the political will for those in power to resolve that conflict by demonstrating the leadership needed to move us closer to obtaining the equality we’ve been promised. Existing power structures -- especially existing political power structures -- demand that advocacy organizations fragment their attention and their power, fighting against allied interests in order to make the most noise. GetEQUAL is interested in moving beyond that advocacy model -- in creating a political framework in which our advocacy and organizing mirrors the intersectional lives that we all lead.