Washington, D.C. — The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) today announced a bold, proactive grassroots expansion with the launch of HRC Rising, a campaign to accelerate progress in states from coast-to-coast, resist the politics of hate, fight anti-LGBTQ legislation, and fuel pro-equality candidates and initiatives. In June, HRC partnered on dozens of nationwide marches — from the Los Angeles #ResistMarch to the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. and cities in between. HRC is harnessing that momentum to begin organizing for the 2018 elections earlier than ever before, with its biggest strategic investment in the organization's 37-year history.
"It's not enough to resist the hateful policies and attacks coming from the Trump-Pence regime — we've got to accelerate the pace of progress toward full equality and secure protections for LGBTQ people in states and communities across the country. That's why we're going on offense with the largest grassroots expansion in HRC's 37-year history," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "Our grassroots army of over 3 million has proven that, even in the face of unprecedented challenges, we can make incredible progress and defeat the hateful politicians who've been emboldened by Donald Trump when we organize and mobilize. The power and determination of the 10 million LGBTQ voters and our allies across America will only continue to grow stronger in the face of discriminatory attacks on our rights and freedoms."
HRC has a proven track record of organizing and mobilizing supporters to defeat anti-LGBTQ legislation and candidates, and to turn out on Election Day. Last fall, national exit polls showed the LGBTQ vote was the only demographic group to increase its support for Hillary Clinton over former President Barack Obama four years earlier, with a record-breaking 78 percent of the vote. And, in one of the only bright spots of the election, HRC and Equality North Carolina successfully defeated North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory after he targeted LGBTQ people with his notoriously discriminatory HB2 law. HRC and Equality North Carolina set out to organize the more than 250,000 LGBTQ voters and allies across North Carolina and built a campaign against HB2; by Election Day, 57 percent of voters said the law was their top reason to vote against McCrory. This was the result of significant, long-term investment and staff deployment on the ground in North Carolina.
HRC will now expand on these efforts and has begun recruiting at least 20 additional full-time staff, including dedicated political, field, grassroots organizing, volunteer engagement, communications, and digital staff, who will join more than two dozen existing staff working on the initiative. They will immediately begin working with HRC's 32 existing, volunteer-led, local steering committees to expand local partnerships, recruit additional volunteers, mobilize constituents, register voters and grow the organization's grassroots army to flex political muscle in legislatures and at the ballot box. HRC is allocating $26 million to resource this nationwide grassroots push. The launch of HRC Rising comes after a year in which HRC significantly expanded its grassroots engagement and proved that the ten million LGBTQ voters in America — five percent of all voters — are one of the most important and effective voting blocs in the nation.
In Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada, HRC will make an especially strong, early push to organize against the Trump-Pence agenda and support pro-equality candidates in coming elections. Staff and volunteers will work with state and local organizations and partners in coalition to bolster efforts to advance equality, defend the LGBTQ community against attacks, and deliver wins for pro-equality candidates in order to lay the groundwork for future legislative victories. In addition, over the last year, HRC has refined its digital outreach, organizing and targeting, including the development of an "Equality Voter Model." HRC can now target with a high degree of accuracy not only LGBTQ voters but allies — "equality voters" — who are likely to oppose candidates who attack the civil rights of LGBTQ people.
Mobilizing "equality voters" will be crucial to making future gains because of their reliable support and consistently high turnout. Despite Clinton's loss in last year's presidential election, the results reinforced the importance of the LGBTQ vote for delivering key states. In 2012, Gallup noted the strength of the LGBTQ vote in battleground states: "without the support of the 5 percent of voters in four key swing states who identified as LGBT, President Barack Obama may have lost those states, jeopardizing his re-election." Of the 25 GOP House members holding districts carried by Clinton last cycle, 23 have anti-equality records.
Planning for both a defensive strategy to combat the Trump-Pence regime and an offensive strategy began immediately following the election in November. In January, HRC launched a full-time war room dedicated to fighting the Trump Administration's anti-LGBTQ, anti-American agenda. HRC's 10-person war room team, comprised of rapid response, research, digital and video staff, has led efforts to defeat hateful nominees with anti-LGBTQ records like Mark Green and resist anti-LGBTQ executive actions. The team has worked in coalition to protect healthcare, defend Planned Parenthood, rally against Trump's Muslim ban, deportation force, and border wall.
The launch of HRC Rising represents the opening of another front in HRC's fight against the Trump-Pence agenda, and draws on one of the greatest strengths of the organization: its more than 3 million highly-engaged members, supporters, volunteers and activists in virtually every community coast-to-coast. Over several decades, HRC has steadily expanded its footprint at the state and local levels. One of the models for the HRC Rising initiative has been HRC's successful Project One America program, which launched in 2014 with the goal of dramatically expanding LGBTQ equality in the South through permanent campaigns in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. Since the program's launch, several cities and towns have passed comprehensive, trans-inclusive non-discrimination protections — including in Jackson and Magnolia, Mississippi.