I can not begin to imagine the last two years of my life without Equality Florida. My involvement started simply with my son asking me to sign up for their emails when we attended the first Manatee Pride. I started reading the materials sent to me. Something touched my soul in those emails and it became clear that as a straight ally, I had to become active in the movement to facilitate change. I witnessed the first legal same-sex marriage held on the lawn on the Manatee County Courthouse on January 6th, 2015, knowing Equality Florida was the legal force behind that day becoming a reality. I have volunteered at Pride events across the state to gather signatures to present to politicians to ensure equality in the workplace, housing and public space. June 12, 2016, Equality Florida took on a new role after the shooting at Pulse in Orlando. They became the voice of the LGBTQ heard across the nation and around the world. In an time when hate and vengeance could have been seen as a justified reaction to such a loss, they spoke out unified with a message of love, hope and change. In a time of grief and sorrow, they collectively showed strength and courage. They have put love into action. Since my introduction to the organization, my son has come out as gay. I could not think of better role models for him than the individuals I have met as staff, interns and volunteers at Equality Florida.
The work of this group is amazing. My experience has been in Broward County where the energy and results are particularly impressive. It's a first class organization with passion and focus.
I’ve been involved with Equality Florida (EQFL) since June, 2005, when it was 8 years old. At that time, a Hillsborough County Commissioner pushed an extremely discriminatory policy, one I thought to be unconstitutional, through the Commission banning county employees from recognizing any and all activities of Gay Pride Month even during their own, private time. Needless to say, this caused a huge amount of anger in the LGBT community along with all of those of us who stand with our fellow citizens.
EQFL and some other organizations called an emergency town hall to help ease the tensions. This was my introduction, and it was awe-inspiring.
I watched as the wonderfully well-educated, well-spoken, intelligent and thinking CEO of EQFL, Ms. Nadine Smith, heard our rage and desire for revenge of the something like 700 people in attendance that night and still convinced us to channel it toward positive energy, positive steps, the Michelle Obama’s “going high” approach, and gave us group exercises to do right then to bring everyone along so that we all moved forward together. I repeat: awe-inspiring.
Nadine did this, and continues always to do this, as does EQFL, because she knew that the only way really to win a struggle is by the long-term changing of hearts and minds. Revenge might feel good at the moment, but it does dreadful harm to changing hearts and minds; positive interaction might take longer, but it is the only thing that actually works in the end. That’s what EQFL showed this huge group of angry people, and they found a way to become positive and move forward with some terrific ideas.
I became a member that night in 2005 and have been a member ever since.
Over the years, EQFL has grown in size—I’m not sure of the full number of members, but I believe it is now something like a couple hundred thousand, and it started back in 1997 with about 15—in stature, in capability, in knowledge—legal, personal, personnel,technical, and you-name-it—but it has never changed its focus on changing hearts and minds. It has fought against bad bills all over the state, including Tallahassee, and for good bills; it has spoken in front of almost every legislative or county/city board you can name in support of the LGBT adults and children; it has been everywhere 365/24 to do what it can to help make the lives of our fellow citizens better, safer, fairer, and what they should be: equal. During all of this tremendous work, their focus has remained to change hearts and minds.
I’ve been so impressed by all the work and all the growth I’ve seen both in the organization as a whole and in each of the leaders individually. Some I’ve seen start as fairly young, just out of college, grow into mature, capable leaders and speakers ready to take on the future of this country. That’s come from working with EQFL, and our country benefits from it.
Again, I’ve been so impressed by the work, the growth, the people, and the organization as a whole and recommend Equality Florida for as many awards as there are available to it.
Equality Florida has enabled and empowered my wife and myself to get involved in critical issues facing the Florida LGBT Community (i.e. Marriage , Housing, Employment.) The organizers encourage all Floridians (gay, lesbian, transgender & straight) to feel involved and that each all of our voices are important and will be heard. We have met so many wonderful people through EQ FL events (political and social) that we consider dear friends. The quick response with aid to Pulse victims and their families was amazing in terms of money raised and speed of providing the aid. Thank you Equality Florida (Ro, Nate, & Nadine) for encouraging and providing avenues for so many people to get involved and learn about the past and latest issues, and feel like each one of us can make a difference.
Equality Florida is a remarkable organization, that's been in existence for twenty years, and I am proud to be a part of it. It serves several important functions for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Floridians, and I volunteer to help raise funds for that important work. Everyone was touched by the massacre at Pulse Nightclub. Equality Florida was the first to recognize the need to meet the needs of the victims' families and the survivors in the aftermath of the attack. There was an international response to the GoFundMe Pulse Victim's fund set up by Equality Florida. In three months almost $10 million dollars was raised, all of which were given to directly benefit victims and their families.
Equality Florida was praised for the integrity and transparancy with which they managed the fund, for which they received no fee.
This year, I participated in Equality Florida's annual lobby days in Tallahassee where the EF staff organized an extensive schedule of meetings to reach out to state level Senators and Representatives to explain the importance of protecting the rights of LGBT individuals in the workplace, housing and public accommodations, as well as limiting bills that promote religion-based discrimination. EF also works with school districts and organizations to promote safe schools for all students. This year they launched the pioneering Safe and Healthy Schools Project that is developing the resources for all districts in Florida, as well as the tools by which to measure success and require accountability.
Equality Florida is an important and effective organization, that I believe provides good value. It gets high ratings from non-profit rating organizations, too.
Equality Florida does outstanding work in Broward (where we live) and the entire state of Florida. Their outreach to the Community through hosted evening events provide updates on the political activities underway at the local and State level. The enthusiastic and competitive staff makes this non-profit a 5 star organization in my book!
I have been involved since the beginning of this Organization when they organized in Key West. The commitment and drive to provide a safe space for all LGBTQ persons in Florida is evident in everything that EQFL does.
Their team has the utmost leadership abilities and everything they do is transparent and ethical.
I am the past Chair of EQFL and have been involved in the organization since 1997. This group has done MORE for LGBTQ rights on the statewide level than any other organization in Florida. There is full transparency in everything EQFL does. EQFL is an outstanding organization dedicated to bringing Florida into the 21st Century.
This organization is passionate, compassionate and focused. Their leadership is always forward-thinking and a step ahead. Proud to have been a donor for almost 10 years.
Equality Florida is leading the fight for equality throughout the state. From marriage equality and family recognition to trans action and workplace equality, EQFL has been and will continue fighting against discrimination whenever and however it presents itself. I am especially thankful for the work their doing to create safe schools for LGBTQ youth. I am also thankful for the support they have provided to victims and their families who were affected by the shooting at Pulse nightclub.
The team at Equality Florida is visionary, capable and competent. They have fought tirelessly since 1997 to protect the rights of LGB&T people and children in Florida in all 67 counties. Nadine & Stratton work well together in concert as they drive the vision forward beyond Marriage Equality. Florida still has much work to be done at the city, county, school district and state level. Their "Equality Means Business" program really inspires me and is a testament to their efforts to make our great state even better.
I cannot endorse Equality Florida enough. I know that my donation always goes to good use and am happy to be a volunteer and supporter.