the longest blog post ever: 2007 in review

I’m not one for long-winded blog posts, but when it comes to
the accomplishments of the Family Equality Council in 2007, I’m all
too happy to toot a few horns. 2007 was a busy year for us with an
ambitious agenda. We set our sights high and strategically worked
to achieve many important victories for our families.

Without further ado, enjoy this look at our year in

OUTSpoken Speaker’s Bureau: trained 300 OUTSpoken

Our dedicated staff kicked off the New Year by traveling to San
Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles for three OUTSpoken training
sessions. Here we completed our first ever “Train the Trainers”
sessions, where qualified OUTSpoken graduates were trained on how
to pass on their knowledge in a professional and comprehensive

The staff moved up the East Coast and across the Midwest next,
training in Fort Lauderdale, Washington D.C., Ann Arbor, Detroit,
and Minneapolis. Each stop involved specific work around local
politics and events: safe schools, marriage equality, the adoption
ban in Florida, second parent adoption and what it means to be a

Training 300 LGBTQ parents and allies to stand up and speak about
their families was no small feat. These families then reached out
to their political representatives, neighbors, religious leaders,
PTA heads and community members about relevant and pressing issues.
OUTSpoken participants extend the understanding of family equality
to a wide audience, making our families more visible. Since its
start in January 2006, a total of 1,000 individuals in 39 states
have signed up to be OUTSpoken, demonstrating the reach and
importance of this program.

Safe Schools: protecting our children where it matters

In 2007 we launched original publications targeted to guide
parents, educators and allies on how to ensure safety in their
schools. In June we introduced the Rainbow Report Card, an
interactive tool on our website; it measures school inclusiveness
and provides steps on how to make change happen in schools that
need improvement. It was accessed by 3,800 individuals!

In January the Philadelphia School District upheld policies
inclusive of LGBTQ parents and their families by maintaining their
recognition of gay and lesbian history month against fierce
opposition from conservative right-wing advocates. In solidarity
with progressive efforts made by the district, the Family Equality
Council sent hundreds of publication packets (Opening Doors,
Opening More Doors, the Back-to School Tool) to Philadelphia school
administrators and educators. The included materials armed both
LGBTQ parents and allied school personnel with useful information
and easy-to-follow strategies to ensure children’s success in

In terms of local schools work, we have gotten directly involved in
creating change this October. Thanks to the generosity of donors
such as you, we were able to step in when we heard of Ginny
Gaffey’s daughter being abused on the playground at the hands of
her peers in Milton, Massachusetts. Staff involvement has been key
to successful meetings with the Milton school, guidance on what
steps to take next, coalition building with other organizations
around relevant actions, and most importantly support for Ginny and
her daughter. We will use the information gathered from this
experience to lay the response ground work for other families that
are faced with such discrimination.

Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler, along with our newly expanded
program team, continued in 2007 to provide educational workshops at
our large family events. Workshop attendance at Family Week in 2007
hit a high with 600+ families! The “Making Schools Safe”
workshop at Family Week involved 80 individuals and focused on how
to prepare them for situations that may arise, how to talk about
their families, and provided a venue for LGBTQ parents to voice
concerns and ideas. Furthering the reach of our schools workshops,
this year we solidified Family Equality Council’s role as the
sole provider of advocacy workshops on R Family Vacations

Visibility: The Importance of Being Seen

2007 has seen a boom in media coverage and visibility for our
families. Family Equality Council started the year by putting an
OUTSpoken family on Oprah! The Sutherland-Trevino Family – two
dads, five kids—were brought together by love, foster care and
adoption in Texas. They showed Oprah’s 7 million viewers that a
multitude of family constellations exist and that all are valuable.

For the second year running, Family Equality Council staff,
members, and volunteers camped out to get LGBTQ-headed families
tickets to the historic White House Egg Roll. For the second year
in a row, our families were visible on the White House Lawn rolling
eggs with spoons, eating candy and most importantly enjoying a fun
family activity while America saw us proudly wearing rainbow leis.
Family Equality Council was featured in The Politico, The
Washington Post, The New York Blade, The Washington Times, and The
Washington Blade. Our “Live Blogging” during the event kept
members who could not be there up to date and involved. We made our
families visible by showing America how LGBTQ-headed families
naturally weave into the fabric of a great American tradition.
Family Equality Council exuded national influence while garnering
local support and influence in the Washington, DC area.

The April Egg Roll was the precursor to a month chock full of
discussions on Mary Cheney’s pregnancy and delivery. Family
Equality Council received coverage on ABC, CNN, Good Morning
America, The New York Times, The LA Times, The Advocate, numerous
blogs like Mombian and Queerty. The significance of Family Equality
Council’s involvement in the Mary Cheney maelstrom cannot be
overstated—for one entire week the entire country was
acknowledging and talking about our families.

Our blog, launched in January, has connected us to the online
community and has been essential in broadcasting news and
developments, such as the White House Egg Roll, to our members. To
date more than 55,000 people have participated in our blog and
this, in conjunction with our new online advocacy center, has given
LGBTQ-headed families an unprecedented visibility online.

To round out a year bursting with media activity, we were
recognized in the September issue of The Advocate for being part of
what they called “The New Order”. The Advocate wrote that
“The organizations now propelling the movement have smaller
staffs and budgets but major impact…The result? Progress up and
down the scale of the fight for equality. Indeed, the little guy
may be the key to our success in the long haul.” We were listed
as a small organization that does the most with the least. Full
page recognition in the Advocate is visibility not only for Family
Equality Council, but the work we are doing for all of our

Policy and Legislative Work

Family Equality Council continues to focus on our capacity to
defeat anti-family legislation and promote pro-family legislation.
In March we put our program team on the ground in Texas for a lobby
day organized around 10 bills that were on the table. We were one
of three national organizations that sent staff. The threat of a
tiered foster-to-adopt regulation that preferred hetero-sexual
married couples over all other prospective parents was one of the
10 bills being considered, but the capitol was swarmed by lobby day
attendees and the ban never materialized.

The adoption ban in Florida was the focus of our next town hall,
held in conjunction with the “Valuing Our Families Conference”.
Family Equality Council, with our local partners, gathered 280
attendees to hash out actions, responses, and how they could be
OUTSpoken when it came to the adoption ban. These participants then
attended the town hall which featured LGBTQ parents, voices of
faith and leading policy experts all of whom outlined why
Florida’s only-in-the-nation adoption ban is bad public policy.
The Town Hall received local media coverage and reached more than
300 participants.

Currently, we are working with other organizations to make sure
that ballot amendments on foster and adoption bans are stopped in
their tracks in Arkansas and Tennessee. Executive Director Jennifer
Chrisler and our Program & Policy staff are leading coalition
meetings with organizations such as the ACLU, PFLAG, HRC, and The
Task Force to coordinate national strategy and response to these
threats. We know that love makes a family and with the help of
coalition building and programs such as OUTSpoken Families we are
spreading that message; counteracting the misinformation of
right-wing fundamentalists.

Web Expansion and Our Name Change

Our name change transition, Family Pride to Family Equality
Council, was announced October 9, 2007. This change is reflective
of our broadened understanding that all loving families must be
treated equally and that all loving families must fight for that
change. The name change reinforces our commitment to working across
communities and issues and joining forces with other progressive
advocacy groups to create meaningful change for all loving
families. In order to better capture the full breadth and scope of
our work and our collective vision of a world that treats all
loving families equally, we thought it was important to change our
name; and we believe the name Family Equality Council successfully
captures and communicates our mission, our history and our

With our new name came a new user-friendly, interactive website.
Launched in October, the new website includes our popular blog,
garnering 8,200 views per month, a kid’s corner, action center,
publications available for download, upcoming events, a message
board and so much more. It is a place for parents, kids, allies,
and friends to visit for tools, networking and up-to-date
information. Our website averages 33,000 page views in one month,
meaning that we are reaching our members at a higher rate than ever

Organizational Capacity & Planning

The Family Equality Council was able to increase the staff
resources dedicated to fighting for equality. We grew our staff
from 5 to 10, adding 3 people to our program and policy team and
two new people to our development team. Of those positions, two
were newly created to help facilitate our growth: the Director of
Policy & Programming, and Program and Education Associate
focused on youth work. All of our team members bring fresh ideas
and motivation to our work. Our additions to the Development team
will help us gain and sustain the funds we need to continue to do
our amazing work. The new Program and Education staff members will
help us grow our advocacy and education programs so that we are
fully prepared to fight anti-family legislation in the 2008
legislative session; maintain and develop our website and, through
OUTSpoken Families, train LGBTQ parents and their allies to talk
knowledgably about LGBTQ-headed families.

In September of 2007, we launched a strategic planning initiative
that will help shape the next 3-5 years of the organization’s
growth and impact. After 2.5 years of growth and change, we knew we
needed to step back and reflect on our progress and chart a strong
course for our future. The results of that planning will be
unveiled in the late Spring of 2008 and we are excited by the
potential of our work.

So there you have it, 2007 in review. A huge thanks to our tireless
staff and to all of you for making our work possible.