At any given time, the Mentoring Project is working in close partnership with 2–4 LGBT organizations and teams. Here are some of the ones we've been working with over the past year:
Vote For Equality
The Mentoring Project has been working predominantly with Vote for Equality, the organizing wing of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. In the wake of Prop 8’s passage, VFE’s aim is to build the power of the LGBT movement in Los Angeles and to eventually win marriage back in California, in addition to developing new leaders for the movement. They are doing this by testing a program of persuasion canvassing: having open-ended conversations with voters at their doorsteps about marriage for gay and lesbian couples, finding out what their concerns are regarding marriage for LGBT couples, and clarifying and addressing these concerns. In 2009, VFE had over 5000 conversations with voters, with 400 volunteers having worked at least one canvassing shift. These conversations have moved undecided and unsupportive voters at a rate of around 25% to begin to be more supportive of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
The work in California with Vote For Equality and other groups is ongoing and will be a high priority for the Mentoring Project.
David Caldwell spent much of 2009 helping to found and grow Ask Cleveland, a new grassroots LGBT rights organization in Cleveland, Ohio. Ask Cleveland formed early in the year out of a divisive local battle over Cleveland, Ohio's new domestic partnership registry. Caldwell recruited a team of a dozen local leaders to attend the Task Force's Power Summit in Maine. After the threat faded, he helped the team survive the transition from reactive to proactive work, and the group began working to pass a local transgender rights law. The December 2008 vote on the domestic partnership registry broke down along racial lines, so Ask Cleveland disproportionately did its organizing work in the African American community, identifying over 1,200 supportive voters from African-American neighborhoods (and over 2,600 overall) to help lobby legislators in favor of the law. The 2008 vote was 13-7, with only two of ten African-American legislators voting in favor of the registry; a public August 2009 survey found that only eight members supported the law. After a vigorous grassroots lobby campaign, on November 30, 2009, Cleveland City Council passed the transgender rights law 21-0, with all ten African-American legislators voting in favor.
The Mentoring Project has worked for marriage equality in Maine for two years, and was first involved in the legislative campaign two years ago, organizing in Mainers in their local communities to elect LGBT-supportive officials. Immediately after the successful follow-through which led to the passage of LGBT marriage rights couples in the state's legislature, an anti-marriage campaign arose, forcing LGBT Mainers to defend their rights at the ballot box, much as California did one year prior. All of the Mentoring Project’s organizers worked in Maine for extended periods of time during the last few months of the electoral campaign, playing various roles in the field campaign and ensuring unexpectedly high rates of voter contact.
If your organization or team would like to work with the LGBT Mentoring Project, go to our contact page and send us an email.