In February 2002, thirty gay and lesbian leaders and community allies from across South Carolina gathered to talk about the state of our state. It was at this historic meeting that SC Equality was born.
That February meeting (thanks to the efforts of Linda Ketner and AFFA) was the first time so many representatives from all over the state had ever been brought together to work together. For three days, the group discussed the status of the GLBT community in our state, the weaknesses of our community organizing, the strengths to be found in our existing organizations, and the serious need for legislative advocacy, political power, and statewide coordination.
The gathered group was frustrated at the lack of coordination among organizations in the state, tired of the inevitable turf wars that seemed to come up, and sure—absolutely sure—that collaboration would be the key to a more effective political and social movement. So they founded the South Carolina Equality Coalition.
SC Equality began as a statewide coalition of local and regional LGBT organizations, individuals, and straight allies whose mission was, and still is, to secure civil and human rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender South Carolinians and their families.
During its first year, SC Equality developed a three-year strategic plan centered on three principle purposes:
- monitoring and impacting legislation and the political issues in South Carolina;
- combating a cultural and religious climate that fostered acceptable prejudice against GLBT people in the state; and
- strengthening the involvement of the state's diverse GLBT populations as stakeholders in their communities.
To do this important work, two organizations were created: SC Equality Equality, Inc., a 501(c)4 political organization focused on social justice and legislation, and our allied SC Equality, Inc., a 501(c)3 charitable and educational non-profit. Learn more about the differences between these two organizations.
The work of these two partner organizations was based on the following organizational strategies:
- Historically the GLBT community had accepted less than full equality, often accepting small, token advancements. SC Equality was committed to operate from a position of strength, demanding full equality.
- SC Equality would provide the leadership to establish broad coalitions with GLBT and allied groups, acknowledging that long-term progress in the state was tied to collaborative ventures.
- SC Equality would invest significant resources in message development, understanding that communicating effectively with South Carolinians was a critical component of the advancement of civil rights.
- SC Equality would recognize that targeted, local victories were necessary before broad, statewide advances would be enjoyed.
- SC Equality would advance proactive, positive legislation and policies rather than operate defensively and reactively.