We were thrilled to take a trip down to Louisville, Kentucky last week to join state LGBTQ rights organizations and national LGBTQ partners at the Equality Federation’s annual Leadership Conference. It was an opportunity to celebrate the victories of our state partners, learn about critical LGBTQ rights work going on across the country, and get ready and energized for next year. And there was certainly a lot to celebrate: for example, advocates in Georgia passed four local nondiscrimination ordinances that protect LGBTQ individuals, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination law by referendum, and six more states have passed laws prohibiting the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. We were also excited to celebrate our role in passage of several new LGBTQ-inclusive paid leave laws and victories upholding local LGBTQ rights laws.
We participated in two workshops at this year’s conference, and it was a treat to see in person the partners we work with throughout the year. Laura Durso from the Center for American Progress and Kim Hunt from Pride Action Tank joined ABB Senior Staff Attorney Jared Make to discuss the importance of inclusive family definitions in paid leave laws, to ensure that workers can take time to care of all of their loved ones, not just those related by blood or legal ties. And Katie Belanger from the Local Solutions Support Center moderated a panel with Brandon Thomas from the Tennessee Equality Project, Joe Saunders from Equality Florida, and Dilini Lankachandra from ABB about the importance of developing cross-issue coalitions to protect local LGBTQ and racial justice laws against state interference.
As always, we left the conference with more knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm to continue our LGBTQ and preemption work in the coming year. Thanks to the Equality Federation for organizing such a great event and all of the state groups who came out to Louisville and made this year’s leadership conference such a success!