This week I talked with Brian Silva, Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) that will be closing down later this year after accomplishing their 20 year mission of marriage equality in all 50 states and at the federal level. Silva will then shift his efforts as director of grassroots engagements for Freedom for All Americans (FFAA), an organization focused on achieving national nondiscrimination protections for our LGBT community. In 33 states LGBTQ people are still not fully protected from discrimination whether in employment, housing or in public spaces like restaurants or hotels. The National Equality Action Team (NEAT) developed by MEUSA in 2012 will now have a new home at FFAA. Through NEAT, volunteers will continue to be able to make phone calls to residents in states with pending legislation, knock on doors to urge residents to contact their lawmakers and assist with a variety of other actions that places NEAT volunteers right in the middle of these important historic campaigns. I talked to Brian about his transition to FFAA and his spin on our LGBT issues.
When asked what his personal commitment is to LGBT civil rights Silva stated:
It starts with the personal as a gay man who is about to marry his partner this year. Having equality and being treated equally is something obviously very personal to me and my fiancé and something we will definitely benefit from. But I think in addition to that the idea that we would have a two tiered system for just about anybody in our community or in our nation is to me highly offensive and really goes against what I think the majority of Americans believe what our country is about. I think it's also important to make sure that we're looking at our community and our community's issues not just from the traditional LGBT lens, you know marriage, nondiscrimination and conversion therapy, things that just effect the LGBT community. Those are all very important but the members of our community are also people of color who are affected by a discriminatory criminal justice system. They are women who are having their access to reproductive health and rights attacked. They are undocumented families and kids and parents whose families are being torn apart by a broken immigration system. So my commitment is to look at our community and the people in it holistically and to use some of the privileges I have been given and the opportunities I have been given to make sure that other people have opportunities and privileges and I'm fighting for all of those things in our community that need to be fought for to really create the American dream for each of us.
Brian Silva's leadership expanded MEUSA's grassroots education and advocacy work into communities across the nation contributing to the passing of marriage equality in all 50 states especially with the establishment of the National Equality Action Team (NEAT) coalition. NEAT's work is already underway in Massachusetts where a bill is pending that would ensure that transgender people cannot be turned away or denied service at a public place on the basis of their gender identity and in Florida where advocates are working to update Florida's nondiscrimination laws to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
For More Info: theneat.org