Tuesday, April 11, 2006

IE Launches New Website: Touts Gains And Ambitious Fundraising Goal

Indiana Equality, the state's leading GLBT organization, released its "2005 Report To The Community" as it launched a new and expanded website. The report touts IE's accomplishments on behalf of the GLBT community in the past year and provides an accounting of its income and expenses for 2005, along with its projected income and expenses for 2006.

The report boasts of IE's efforts to expand local human rights protections by working with community organizations throughout the state. The passage of Indianapolis' HRO topped the list, along with efforts to expand Bloomington's human rights ordinance to include "gender identity", and to obtain or expand civil rights protections in other local communities around the state.

Playing defense kept IE on its toes as well. The report cites several anti-GLBT proposals which were successfully turned back, in part, through IE's efforts. Those included:

  • SB 580, introduced by Sen. Jeff Drozda, which would have prohibited single individuals and same-sex couples from adopting children;
  • SB 585, introduced by Sen. John Waterman, which would have prohibited gays and lesbians from being foster parents or adopting children;
  • SB 428, introduced by Sen. Pat Miller, which would have eliminated domestic partner benefits for university employees;
  • SB 541, introduced by Sen. John Waterman, which would have banned domestic partner benefits; and
  • Senator Pat Miller's infamous effort to regulate assisted reproduction in an effort to prevent the use of artificial insemination by unmarried women.

IE plans a very ambitious fundraising effort during 2006. The group plans to raise 600% more this year than it did last year, increasing its revenues from $40,631 to $244,000. The expanded fundraising efforts will allow IE to increase its annual budget from $39,180 in 2005 to a projected budged of $229,200, a nearly six-fold increase. Not surprisingly, a good part of those funds are to be used for "public policy advocacy and grassroots organizing activities"; IE has budgeted $109,900 for this purpose compared to the $32,096.09 it spent last year. IE is also budgeting substantially more for "public relations activities", postage and printing and travel; $30,000, $31,000 and $27,150, respectively, has been budgeted for each of those line items.

In February, we reported on a response IE's officers made via an e-mail communication to quiet criticism the organization had been subjected to within the GLBT community. At that time, the organization promised to provide an accounting for its 2005 activities this spring, which it did with the release of this report. In addition to the financials for the 2005 year and projected budget for 2006, the site continues to post information on IE's financials for 2003. No financial data is provided for the 2004 calendar year.

Also answering its critics claims that IE was not "technologically savvy", IE announced in the 2005 report it has implemented the organizing and communication software GetActive. The improved website now provides up-to-date information on how to get informed on the issues facing Indiana’s LGBT community, and how to get active in the effort to secure basic equality and justice for all Hoosiers. Of particular note is the fact that IE’s database/email list has grown from 1,200 to 4,800 individuals in 2005, a four-fold increase, and is getting larger every day.

IE President Kathy Sarris, speaking on the organization's advances said, “The Indiana Equality coalition and its volunteers experienced many successes in 2005.” She added, “We have fostered the emergence and growth of regional groups and organizations, expanded our communications capacity, offered educational forums and training, and blocked anti-LGBT legislative proposals.”

As the group looks ahead, a major priority will be the defeat of SJR 7, which amends the Indiana Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, and which further provides that the state "shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage." SJR 7 was overwhelmingly approved by the General Assembly in 2005, but the identical language must be approved by the next General Assembly before it can be submitted to the state's voters for consideration.

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