Given the financial plight of Equality Maryland, one would think other state LGBT advocacy organizations would be getting a blaring reminder as to the need to fundraise locally and not alienate in-state contributors. The later effort would include not promoting anti-gay businesses and organizations (on my personal blog, I generally support boycotts of anti-gay corporations and countries) and demonstrating some degree of accountability to contributors.
The message seems lost on Equality Virginia - or at least some of its administrative staff. One would think that in order to be held out as a resource to the LGBT community by a LGBT rights organization a law firm would need to go through some sort of minimal vetting process.
More than a willingness to accept LGBT dollars ought to be required.
Yet such is apparently not the case with Equality Virginia, which persists in listing the Virginia Beach law firm of Wolcott Rivers Gates as a resource for legal services to the Hampton Roads LGBT community.
Never mind that Wolcott Rivers has no non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Never mind that Wolcott Rivers has, to my knowledge, never given the first dime of financial support to any of the local Hampton Roads LGBT organizations - something I'd know about, given my involvement as a founder and a member of the board of Hampton Roads Business OutReach, the local gay and gay-friendly chamber of commerce; my past membership on the board of directors of Hampton Roads Pride; and my service on EV's Legends committee for five years. Oh, and did I mention that Wolcott Rivers is the law firm that forced me out for being gay?
Almost without exception, the other firms and attorneys listed by EV as Hampton Roads area resources employ openly gay attorneys and/or have demonstrated many times through financial support their acceptance of LGBT individuals and their support for the cause of LGBT legal equality. So why does Wolcott Rivers get undeserved promotion by Equality Virginia? It's a question I have asked both James Parrish, current executive director of EV, and his predecessor, Jon Blair.
To date, all I've received are mealy-mouthed run-around responses. As Equality Virginia is poised to begin asking for money from sponsors for the 2011 Legends Gala, which will occur on Nov. 19, I hope others will ask this question and demand some answers before they hand over their money and/or in-kind support.
In good conscience, I cannot give further financial support to an organization that promotes a law firm that, by its conduct, has demonstrated its utter contempt for LGBT individuals, if not their money. We as a community ought not to be giving our hard-earned dollars to businesses that do not stand with us in the push for full LGBT equality. I hope readers will ask Equality Virginia - and other state-wide organizations - what's wrong with its vetting process and why an anti-gay business is being promoted on its website.