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Fairness for all

by Ed Madden

The South Carolina Equality Coalition (SCEC) publicly kicked off our Fairness for All Families campaign with a press conference in Columbia on June 5. The press conference, though, was just the public announcement. As you know, we kicked off this campaign over a year ago and we’ve been going strong ever since.

We hired our campaign manager, Asha Leong, in April and we’ll soon be hiring field organizers and other staff, as well as opening a campaign office in Columbia (and we hope regional offices around the state). Our wonderful executive director, Michael Drennan, has transitioned to a half-time position, managing the day-to-day work of the organization as we focus all of our energies and fundraising on the amendment campaign.

In May, Asha kicked off her own work with a tour of the state. We’ve also held Campaign Action Team meetings in communities across the state. If you missed the Action Team meeting in your area and would like to get involved, or if you want to help us organize an Action Team in your area, send an email to mmoore@scequality.org.

As we move forward, the campaign has three major areas: field, fundraising and media.
We are putting together a giant field campaign. We have already made extraordinary outreach at public festivals, from the State Fair in Columbia to the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston to the Gallivants Ferry Stump Meeting. Working with our member organizations SCGLPM and AFFA, we’ve already begun door-to-door canvassing in Columbia and Charleston.

We know from the experiences of other campaigns that neighborhood canvassing is the most effective strategy for changing hearts and minds, so with our new field organizers and the local Action Teams, we will expand this work across the state in the coming months.

Of course, we can’t do this work without money, so we are continuing serious fundraising. You can visit www.scequality.org to find out how you can help us with a donation.

So far, we’ve held house parties all around the state showing oureducational video in homes, bars, community meetings, and raising awareness and funds for the campaign. If you would like to host a house party in your area, send an email to mmoore@scequality.org.

We’ve also worked to empower the many groups in this state already doing the groundwork of community organization and education. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of our past chair Linda Ketner and her partner Beth Huntley, SCEC’s matching grant campaign last summer contributed to the invaluable work of the Business Guild, PFLAG and other member organizations.

We’re doing it again this summer, with our Building Local Capacity campaign, which runs through July 31. Through this matching grant campaign, every dollar you give to SCEC or one of our participating member organizations is doubled.

The final element of our campaign is media. We’ve run radio ads for rural outreach in the Pee Dee and coastal regions. And we’ll soon be running print ads in the Upstate.
Much of our focus is on earned media — that is, stories we create or provide to the local media. If you live in Columbia, you might have seen the moving interview on ABC with a local lesbian couple in response to the Palmetto Family Council’s press conference.

Michelle told about her breast cancer diagnosis, and both she and Roz talked about their fears about holding their family together and what the amendment means to them. We need more human stories like that. These stories make a difference. At our own press conference we had about 30 allies gathered on the steps with us, and five extraordinary speakers: three straight ministers from the Clergy Action Network, as well as Asha Leong and the president of the SC Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement, Kate Goodrich.

If you saw the television coverage, you saw our campaign: lesbian and gay and straight and transgender folks, white and black and people of color, clergy and progressive activists and Log Cabin Republicans, domestic violence advocates, uncles with their nieces and nephews, grandmothers and grandchildren, families of all shapes and sizes.
When I wake up on election day, Nov. 7, I want to know that we as a community are stronger, that we know each other and our allies better, and that we are organized and mobilized, prepared to take on any challenge that comes our way in the future.

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