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This Week in PubHub: LGBTQ Issues

January 26, 2011

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her last post, she looked at four reports that examined efforts to protect and promote international human rights.)

This week PubHub is concluding its month-long focus on civil and human rights by featuring a group of reports that explore LGBTQ issues. To be sure, the decision to end the U.S. military's "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy marks an important milestone in the LGBTQ community's struggle for full rights. Yet given the recent spate of suicides by gay youth who had been bullied, not to mention the ongoing legal and political opposition to gay marriage, the LGBTQ community still has a ways to go.

According to Religion and Same-Sex Marriage in California: A New Look at Attitudes and Values Two Years After Proposition 8, a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, as of June 2010 more than half (51 percent) of Californians surveyed said that if another referendum were held on Proposition 8, they would vote to legalize same-sex marriage, compared with 45 percent who said they would vote against it. Funded by the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and the Ford Foundation, the survey also found that among the religiously affiliated, white evangelicals and Latino Protestants were most likely to oppose gay marriage, Latino Catholics and white mainline Protestants were least likely to do so, and support went up when religion was taken out of the equation altogether.

The links between religion, race/ethnicity, and LGBTQ issues are complicated, of course. And while the connection between LGBTQ rights and broader human rights issues is a recurring theme in many analyses of the LGBTQ movement, Better Together: Research Findings on the Relationship Between Racial Justice Organizations and LGBT Communities cites "fear of community division" as one barrier preventing racial justice groups from taking up LGBTQ issues. The Arcus Foundation-funded report from the Applied Research Center found that resistance from religious institutions, the perceived lack of demand within communities of color, and concerns about driving a "wedge" between members of racial justice organizations — in addition to a lack of strategic clarity and sufficient funding — can limit LGBTQ engagement. At the same time, the report's authors note, there needs to be deeper discussion if we are to overcome the gaps between the experiences of largely white and non-poor LGBTQ activists and those fighting for racial and economic justice.

The need for "community development and cohesion" across race/ethnicity, gender, economic status, religion, and other social constructs is one focus of A Meeting of Queer Minds, a report from Atlantic Philanthropies that looks at LGBTQ-related advocacy efforts in Ireland and South Africa. By working with other human rights organizations — which, given the pervasive poverty and inequality in the latter, is inevitable — LGBTQ activists have created an opening for broader coalitions around issues such as HIV/AIDS and domestic violence that affect all groups.

How does philanthropy fit into all this? The Arcus Operating Foundation's Saving Lives, Promoting Democracy, Alleviating Poverty, and Fighting AIDS: The Case for Funding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Populations describes how LGBTQ advocacy and empowerment efforts in the developing world have advanced human rights and development goals, helped to protect minority rights and reduce poverty, contributed to the building of civil society and promoted the rule of law, and improved public health. Nevertheless, LGBTQ organizations still receive less than 0.01 percent of the aid from OECD countries. In addition to arguing for more funding, the report recommends that funding for LGBTQ advocacy efforts be channeled through local intermediary organizations engaged in active collaboration with nonprofits and technical assistance providers, and that more of it be used to address gender inequities within the LGBTQ movement.

In response to a number of recent suicides by LGBTQ youth, various celebrities, President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and others posted videos on the It Gets Better Web site. What does it mean to say to the LGBTQ community, visible and invisible, that "it gets better"? And in what other ways might the philanthropic sector contribute to advancing LGBTQ and related human rights and racial and economic justice issues? What advocacy strategies or models of engagement have been effective? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And be sure to check out the more than one hundred other reports related to civil and human rights in PubHub.

-- Kyoko Uchida

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