Just as labor unions educate, empower and lobby politically on behalf of the middle class and working families, organizations committed to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender individuals (LGBT) are an incredible source of information and advocacy for our LGBT brothers and sisters. Throughout June, the Women’s and Fair Practices Departments will celebrate LGBT Pride Month by highlighting the many organizations and individuals who have been on the forefront of the LGBT movement.
National LGBT Rights Organizations
The Society for Human Rights
The first known LGBT rights organization in the United States was founded by Henry Gerber in 1924. The Society for Human Rights had its origins in Chicago and received its charter from the state of Illinois. The United States was certainly not as receptive to homosexuality as European countries – the Society for Human Rights’ goal was to change this and create a safe haven for those who had been abused or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
John T. Graves, an African American clergyman, served as president of the organization. Along with Gerber and five other directors, they produced the first American LGBT publication, Friendship and Freedom. Although the group was dismantled a short time later, the Society for Human Rights is credited as being a pioneer in the LGBT movement.
The Human Rights Campaign
HRC was established in 1980 and is headquartered in Washington, DC. It is currently the largest civil rights organization that specifically advocates for members of the LGBT community around the world. This extraordinary organization is made up of more than 1.5 billion members and supporters. They have been a pioneer in using grassroots mobilization and online advocacy to educate and organize the public around LGBT issues such as marriage equality. HRC also has a substantial political action committee (PAC) that uses its resources to elect candidates who support LGBT constituents and their issues.