Bilerico Report

EXCLUSIVE: The end of the marriage equality orgs

Matt McTighe poses in the offices for Mainers United as the group successfully fought for same-sex marriage rights.

Matt McTighe poses in the offices for Mainers United as the group successfully fought for same-sex marriage rights.

After the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, groups dedicated to achieving marriage equality have been closing up shop. Today, new details are emerging about what will happen to the theĀ infrastructure of Marriage Equality USA, the last marriage group left standing. Officials said the group is donating its resources, including the acclaimed National Equality Action Team (NEAT) grassroots field program, to Freedom for All Americans (FFAA).

“Legislatures reconvened only a few weeks ago and already in 2016 we have seen serious attacks on LGBT people in America, with a particularly horrifying focus on transgender children in schools,” said Matt McTighe, executive director of FFAA. “There is no better time to collaborate with a coalition like NEAT, which empowers local advocates to participate in actions that have a direct and immediate impact on campaigns. A majority of people across the country support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, and it’s critical that individual Americans make their voices heard and do their part.”

Freedom for All Americans launched after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. The group absorbed the resources and several staff members from Freedom to Marry when it dissolved following the court’s ruling.

“Hundreds of people have participated in more than 100,000 actions in marriage campaigns under NEAT’s guidance to date,” McTighe said. “We believe that a partnership between NEAT and FFAA will allow us to harness the energy and interest we’ve seen among NEAT’s members to the next important phase of the movement in the form of winning comprehensive nondiscrimination protections. Housing NEAT under FFAA will better support our work in the form of strategic field assistance to state nondiscrimination campaigns, and strengthen NEAT’s overall effectiveness and capacity as a program.”

The NEAT coalition consists of approximately 50 “national, regional and local organizations and hundreds of individual organizers,” according to FFAA. Brian Silva, the executive director of Marriage Equality USA, will move to the new organization to run the program. NEAT was formed in 2012 as a coalition to support ballot campaigns on marriage.

Marriage Equality USA “began planning for a post-marriage landscape in late 2014,” Silva said in an interview with Bilerico Report. “Our processes included surveying our members, hosting a national call with our local organizers, having conversations with our donors, and planning with our national volunteer leaders. We also reached out to our organizational partners. It was important to us that the process was holistic and meaningfully involved all parts of our organization. All of this planning culminated in our decision to close our doors in mid-2016 in a way that put our 20 years of resources to work on other issues in the movement – including the transfer of NEAT to FFAA.”

“As opponents to LGBT equality attempt to roll back protections in a post-marriage landscape, FFAA is the perfect new home for NEAT’s advocacy and work,” said Silva. “No person should be fired from their job, denied services at a business, or kicked out of their home because of who they are or who they love. NEAT works closely with other organizations and volunteers to ensure that no matter where you live or what the status of nondiscrimination laws are in your state, you can get involved and be a part of advancing equality in America.”

Marriage Equality USA announced it would be winding up operations earlier this month.

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