Local Organizing

Building Political Power

It’s no coincidence that the South has emerged as ground zero for the latest wave of anti-LGBTQ laws, such as HB2 in North Carolina and HB1523 in Mississippi. Rather, it’s a sobering and predictable result of the fact that the Southern LGBTQ community remains politically powerless while those who most ardently oppose our rights have disproportionate political power. Limited legislative power and a lack of elected representation are two classic symptoms of political powerlessness. LGBTQ Southerners face both. These are structural problems and changing them will require both short and long-term strategies. You can read our White Paper for a more in-depth analysis on this topic The Long Game: Building LGBTQ Political Power in the South.

That’s why we’re registering new voters in the LGBTQ South and doing non-partisan turnout work in Upstate SC and Western NC. And that’s why we’re part of TurnOUT Asheville, a coalition of non-partisan, LGBTQ organizations that worked to turn out LGBTQ voters and allies in the 2017 Asheville City Council election and call for pro-LGBTQ policies.

Building grassroots power is another important tool for the Southern LGBTQ community. Our Southern Equality Fund provides direct funding and training to grassroots LGBTQ leaders doing vital work in their hometowns across the South. Each year, we open a Queer the Vote grant round to support non-partisan voter registration and turnout efforts across the LGBTQ South.

Passing Local Policies

CSE provides community leaders working on LGBTQ issues with policy analysis and assists with research, policy writing, and developing organizing strategies in order to pass local protections. We have worked with community members to propose and pass equality measures in Asheville, NC, Buncombe County, NC and Winston-Salem, NC.

Highlighted work:

CSE Legal Outreach Coordinator Liz Vennum speaks to WInston-Salem councilmembers about the domestic partner benefits proposal.

CSE Legal Outreach Coordinator Liz Vennum speaks to Winston-Salem council members about the domestic partner benefits proposal (2015).