Despite debates over strategy and sequencing (i.e. emphasizing ENDA over marriage equity or visa-versa) the push for LGBT legal and social inclusion has seen significant (some call it a sea change) success over the past decade. This has been occurred through both formal/institutional initiatives and informal/relational conversations, discussions and coming out-the result of which has been a shifting of the attitudinal and legal landscape.
In seeking to build upon these successes, those engaged in the LGBT movement are now at a strategic crossroads, the context of which is dynamic and highly fluid. In its “At the Crossroads: The Future of the LBGT Movement”, the Building Movement Project and Wellspring Advisors identify four key areas of focus for continued momentum:
Defining a new vision
Extending and diversifying base building
Strengthening the infrastructure (organization and field capacity)
Given their practical and strategic advantages, let’s take a look at alliances. For the LGBT movement to inform broad and transformative social and systems change its players must develop and maintain collaboration beyond any single campaign or policy issue. In this expansive view, institutions can maximize communications capacities as well as expand their footprint. The Building Momentum Project and others (such as the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity) suggest that aligning themselves with social justice organizations (immigrant rights, economic justice, labor/workers rights, etc.) will help them to meet this goal. While there are examples of strategic alliances formation at the state and local level-in keeping with what tends to be their broader social justice and policy agenda-this has not translated at a national level. Beyond the challenges associated with institutional silos and parochialism, the question of whether there will be widespread support and funding for alliance building is an open question. For example, interviewees in the Building Movement study indicated that they felt that there is a lack of clearly defined and vetted strategies on how to approach funders.
While there is a vision for continued success for the LGBT movement, the path for actualizing it may be less clear; particularly if institutional and financial barriers cannot be mitigated or overcome.
As always, be focused on knowledge, innovation and impact!
John Patrick Bailey, Ph.D.