Although LGBT issues are global and there are hundreds of worthy organizations worldwide fighting for gay rights, in the United States there are five organizations which stand out as the most effective champions of LGBT rights. These organizations include the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
1. Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation: advocates and storytellers
By far the best known LGBT organization, GLAAD has been a strong advocate for gay rights for over 25 years. GLAAD has offices in over 30 states and work tirelessly in bringing LGBT issues to the public eye. In fact their mission statement makes this clear:
“The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality.”
2. Human Rights Campaign: lawyers and advocates
The Human Rights Campaign also has a long history of fighting for LGBT rights. Founded in 1980, the HRC has offices in almost all 50 states with a particular focus on both outreach as well as elections. The HRC has exerted national pressure in opposition to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” DOMA, as well as state amendments to enshrine discrimination. Their annual report shows a long list of accomplishments and donors.
3. Lambda Legal: the lawyers
Lambda Legal’s 40 years of support of LGBT rights cannot be ignored. Although their focus is specifically legal issues, Lambda Legal’s impact has been very important. The best known case of Lambda Legal is probably Lawrence v. Texas. This landmark case effectively made sodomy laws unconstitutional, eliminating the most basic of discriminatory anti-gay laws. The Lawrence case ended the direct threat to gay couples and set the precedent used to repeal similar laws around the country. Just like cases such as Griswold v. Connecticut established sexual privacy for straight couples, Lawrence enshrined sexual privacy for all people.
4. American Civil Liberties Union: freedom for all
Although the ACLU is an organization focused on freedom for all Americans, the LGBT project founded in 1986 has been focused on education and the legal fight for equality. The ACLU has fought for against LGBT discrimination in parenting, relationships, schools, and marriage.
5. Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network: the anti-bullies
GLSEN’s focus has been one of the nation’s strongest advocates for LGBT equality, focusing on outreach, education, bullying, and other LGBT issues. GLSEN’s focus on improving the protections of LGBT students in school has had a national impact.
The sincere hope of LGBT advocates is that in the next 10 years these groups lose their relevancy and fade into history as sanctioned discrimination against the LGBT community comes to an end.