New partnership to focus on employment protections and working with communities of faith
HARRISBURG - Equality Pennsylvania (EQPA) - the LGBT advocacy organization for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania - and The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) - the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization - have formed a partnership to secure equality in the Keystone State. The new partnership, which includes a joint staff member, will focus on securing support to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) at the federal level and statewide non-discrimination legislation, as well as improving relationships between the LGBT community and various communities of faith.
"We are extremely excited to join Equality Pennsylvania in their great work for fairness," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "EQPA clearly knows its mission and has recently undergone significant changes aimed at making it a truly effective state LGBT civil rights organization. We recognize the importance of those changes and we look forward to working with them to make equality a reality in Pennsylvania."
With an eye on the upcoming elections, HRC and EQPA will target six congressional districts, over 50 state house districts, and 25 state senate districts to gain support for employment protections and to elect fair-minded candidates. Special attention will be paid to the faith community to gain support for passing non-discrimination legislation at the federal and state levels.
"Equality Pennsylvania has been working very hard over the past several months to improve our effectiveness and sharpen our message," explained EQPA board president, Brian Sims. "Our goal remains to represent all of the state's LGBT community in finding better avenues to equality, and we knew from the beginning that this partnership was a perfect way to help us meet the many challenges the organization and our citizens face all the time."
The organizations will be sharing the staff work of Allyson Diane Hamm. As the Statewide Organizer, Hamm brings years of organizing experience to the job. Currently the vice-chair of the Allentown Human Relations Commissions, she is also vice president of Interweave, the LGBT organization of the Unitarian Universalist Church. Hamm is also the former president of PRIDE of the Greater Lehigh Valley and worked as a special project and regional coordinator for PA-GALA (Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian Alliance). She has campaign experience and has been active in the LGBT community for over a decade.
Hamm's responsibilities will include outreach to groups located throughout Pennsylvania that could be helpful in the efforts to pass non-discrimination legislation on both a state and federal level. Her job will also involve special attention being paid to faith community outreach in the hopes of generating improved support for passing non-discrimination legislation within that large constituency. Hamm will also assist in efforts to educate the LGBT community on the upcoming election as well. She will be based in the Lehigh Valley.This is one of EQPA's first partnerships with a national LGBT civil rights organization and one of HRC's most in-depth partnerships with a state equality organization.