Change is a rejuvenating theme in the California LGBT political community and on Monday, Equality California announced it’s changing, too, boosting its mission and profile.
Equality California was born in 1985 as the LIFE AIDS Lobby, in response to the horrific AIDS crisis. In 1998, with the new miracle HIV medications kicking in and a Democrat finally winning election as governor, the community thought life would becomes less fraught with hatred—and LIFE Lobby ran out of money and folded.
Out of the ashes, with an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative looming in the distance, California Alliance for Pride and Equality (CAPE) emerged with the late longtime San Francisco politico Jean Harris as executive director. Geoff Kors, a graduate of Stanford Law School and a lawyer in private practice in Palm Springs, sat on CAPE’s Board of Directors and was talked into taking over when the organization was in trouble.
In 2002, Kors joined the wave of statewide LGBT lobbying organizations changing their name, logo and mission to “Equality.” Kors built Equaity California up and created a model for other state equality organizations. After some ups and downs after Kors left, attorney Rick Zbur is now at the helm and on Monday, August 7, announced another major change: a new logo and a new visual identity, as well as the adoption of a refined mission statement and tagline.
“Our new logo, mission statement and tagline embrace California’s leadership as a beacon of hope for LGBTQ people and the role Equality California has played and will continue to play in creating a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.
Equality California’s new logo represents the leadership role California is playing in advancing LGBTQ civil rights and social justice for Californians and for the rest of the country and world, says a press release.
“The new logo embeds an equal sign and the letters ‘e’ and ‘c’ in an icon shaped like California,” says a press release. “The icon also can be seen as a speech bubble or microphone, symbolizing Equality California’s role in amplifying the voices of the LGBTQ community and taking them to institutions of power in California, Washington, D.C. and across the country.”
The phrase “for all” indicates the LGBT movement’s own intersectionality and therefore the necessity of focusing on social justice for all communities where LGBT people live.
Equality California’s new taglineis “Until the work is done,” underscoring that there is still much work to be done to achieve equality and basic civil rights at the state and federal level.
“Equality California remains dedicated to achieving full lived equality and social justice for all LGBTQ people, wherever they live,” says the press release. “LGBTQ people still face stark disparities in health and wellbeing compared to the general public, including widespread discrimination and lack of acceptance, higher rates of depression, substance abuse, suicide, homelessness, violence and interaction with the criminal justice system, and lower rates of health insurance coverage and school and economic success. These disparities are even greater for LGBTQ people who are also people of color, immigrants or transgender. Our new tag line reflects our organization’s determination to work vigorously on the significant priorities that remain to be accomplished.”
While logos and tag lines might change over the years, mission statements rarely do. Here EQCA is refining their mission to reflect the fact that the organization is expanding and offering itself as an organizational model and to help other LGBT organizations fulfill their missions, as well.
“Equality California’s new mission statement rearticulates our guiding objective ‘to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people,’ and how we accomplish that work. Namely, by bringing ‘the voices of LGBTQ people to institutions of power in California and across the United States.’ Equality California advances ‘civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve.’”
The refined mission, the press release says, “reflects the organization’s existing programmatic focus which includes work in California, Washington D.C. and in states outside California.”
With about 800,000 members, Equality California has already helped with phone banking and other political grassroots campaigns and lobbying efforts in other states in 2016—and is gearing up for 2018.