Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society.
In 2016, we celebrated the passage of our 118th piece of LGBT civil rights legislation in California, making Equality California the nation’s most effective LGBT advocacy and public education organization. We are working within California, at the federal level, and directly with other states to win and protect full equality for LGBT people.
We are tackling the critical issues still facing LGBT people and our families through education, electoral, advocacy and mobilization programs to achieve our mission: full and lasting equality, acceptance and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well being of LGBT Californians.
Equality California is proud to have worked in coalition to secure the most comprehensive set of non-discrimination protections of any state in America. Now we are committed to guaranteeing those protections for every member of the LGBT – no matter where they live, the color of their skin, or their immigration status.
The United States Supreme Court has guaranteed the right of all same-sex couples in America to marry, and same-sex couples have been permanently able to marry in California since 2013. Today, Equality California is working to ensure that same-sex couples and their families are afforded the full and equal protections that marriage provides.
LGBT people are represented in every community in California and throughout our country, including in undocumented and immigrant communities. Until our nation has a just and functional immigration system, we do not have full and lasting LGBT equality. Equality California is leading a collaborative of LGBT organizations across the state, to help LGBT and non-LGBT undocumented individuals come out of the shadows.
Equality4All is our statewide campaign designed to bring much-needed attention to the issue of immigrant rights. Click here to learn more.
Despite historic gains and victories for lesbian, gay and bisexual civil rights, transgender people in America – and in California – still face discrimination, and worse, in all aspects of life. In our schools, our healthcare system, and in too many workplaces, transgender people face disproportionate levels of discrimination and harassment. For over a decade, Equality California has been working in coalition to secure non-discrimination protections for transgender people, focusing on education, employment, healthcare and housing. Today, we continue the critical work of ensuring full and lasting equality in all areas of life for transgender people.
Equality California is proud to have co-founded of Transform California with our partners at Transgender Law Center.
Addressing Disparities in Health and Well-being
Because of the Affordable Care Act, more people than ever have health insurance. However, LGBT people still suffer from negative health outcomes, including underinsurance and uninsurance, at higher rates than the general population. Equality California is committed to improving health outcomes and reducing disparities for all LGBT people, through programs like our groundbreaking Health Happens with Equality and our Fair Share for Equality initiatives, and our constant advocacy and public education efforts on behalf of all members of the LGBT community.
Thanks to decades of science and research, we have a better understanding than ever of how to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS. However, HIV/AIDS is still taking the lives of too many people, especially in the LGBT community. While the CDC has reported a 132% increase in new instances of HIV infections in gay and bisexual men aged 13-24, funding for many HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs has plateaued or been reduced. Equality California has made it a priority to adequately fund HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). As part of this effort, EQCA has launched our #TakeIt: I’m PrEP’d campaign.
Despite these advancements in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, many individuals who are HIV-positive remain criminalized for their status, often facing severe sentences for engaging in any sexual act without disclosing their status, regardless of the level of risk associated with the behavior. HIV-specific criminal laws, many enacted out of fear during the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, are not only ineffective at preventing transmission but stigmatize those living with HIV and reduce the likelihood that individuals will get tested. Equality California is dedicated to repealing these archaic HIV-specific criminal laws in California, bringing them in line with existing laws regarding other STDs, and reflecting the current scientific understanding of transmission and various preventative measures available.
Read more about this work and the Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform coalition.
The LGBT senior population is expected to double by 2030, as the baby boomer generation ages. LGBT seniors face unique challenges as they age and head into retirement. Members of the LGBT community are more likely to lack the support networks that help with aging and are more likely to live in isolation. Sadly, like LGBT people of every age, LGBT seniors still face discrimination, harassment and rejection, including from assisted living centers and nursing homes. Equality California is working to secure the budgetary resources to ensure that LGBT seniors in California can live safe, dignified lives.
Research shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are 3-4 times more likely than their non-gay peers to attempt suicide, and a staggering 60% of transgender youth report having considered suicide. Additionally, 40% of homeless youth are LGBT, often pushed out of their homes due to lack of family acceptance. Obviously, there is a tremendous amount of work to do to guarantee that LGBT youth are afforded the opportunity to live and thrive into adulthood. Equality California continues to pursue advocacy and public education efforts, like the groundbreaking Fair Education Act, to improve every aspect of life for LGBT youth. We will continue to work until LGBT youth are treated equally and justly in schools, in the foster care and child services system, while experiencing homelessness and in our criminal justice system.
We are working on new and innovative programs to ensure that schools implement existing laws that protect LGBT kids from bullying and violence, and that schools remain safe and supporting environments.
Public Education and Civic Engagement
California is blessed with a diverse and robust community of millions of people of faith — including many LGBT and allied people. Equality California is proud that California Faith for Equality is now a program of Equality California Institute. After working with faith communities to promote LGBT equality and safeguard religious freedom for nearly a decade, California Faith for Equality’s network of hundreds of faith leaders are now working with EQCA to advance acceptance and equality for the LGBT community. People of faith have an important role to play in the work to secure and protect full equality for LGBT people, and EQCA is honored to be a part of that ongoing work.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially transgender people, face disproportionate rates of arrest, conviction, incarceration and recidivism. Worse still, LGBT people are more likely than the general population to suffer from physical and sexual assault once they enter the criminal justice system. LGBT people are also members of other communities that face disparate treatment in the criminal justice system, such as people of color. Equality California is committed to working in coalition with a broad array of allies to address the intersectional causes of these disparities and to immediately improve conditions for LGBT people interacting with the criminal justice system.
Equality California is dedicated to protecting and expanding the political power of the LGBT community. One way to do that is elect more highly-qualified, openly-LGBT candidates to every level of elected office from municipal to statewide. In addition, Equality California is working to provide leadership trainings for LGBT leaders to assist them in advancing into both elected and appointed government positions across the state.