To our beloved community and partners: we offer you our deepest and most sincere thanks for taking action for LGBTQ rights in 2021. This fight is vital: our lives and safety, and the lives and safety of our children, are on the line. You and thousands of Jewish people, communities, and organizations across the US have made it clear that we will not back down until we make full LGBTQ equality a reality.
No matter whom we love or what gender we are, we all deserve to be treated with simple respect and to have an equal voice in democracy. And yet, if you live in one of the many states where landlords, employers, and business owners can legally discriminate against LGBTQ individuals and families, or where trans children and adults are legally barred from using a bathroom or playing sports, you know that our dignity and rights as LGBTQ people are on the line.
While the stakes for our human dignity and basic civil rights are high, our hope and our determination have never been greater. We in Keshet’s Community Mobilization team are proud of how this community raised our voices in 2021, and we want to share some highlights and our analysis with you.
In 2021, Keshet got to work activating Jewish communities to come together for LGBTQ rights. Our main focus last year was the Equality Act, federal legislation which would protect LGBTQ folks from discrimination and finally ensure equal civil and human rights for LGBTQ Americans, no matter where they live. The Equality Act passed the House in February 2021 but did not receive a Senate vote.
Together with partners across the US, Keshet is helping build an irresistible movement for LGBTQ equality.
Keshet and our partners also mobilized hundreds of rabbis and cantors to attend advocacy meetings with officials, hold educational and action events in synagogues, and nearly 500 signed Keshet and T’ruah’s Equality Act clergy letter.
Keshet is grateful for the partnership and hard work of Jewish and LGBTQ organizations. Some highlights:
In 2022, we are partnering with the National Council of Jewish Women to advocate for abortion access, and Jews for a Secular Democracy to stand against right-wing Christian encroachment on American law and policy. Many more collaborations are in the works.
Too often the political conversation in the US about LGBTQ people is monopolized by right-wing fundamentalists demanding that their “religious freedom” means special legal dispensation to treat their fellow humans as second-class citizens. As Jews, many of us believe that we were once strangers in a strange land and enslaved to Pharaoh, and many of us remember being 2nd class citizens as Jews in this land. Whatever our Jewish roots and story, we know that all people deserve equal rights and dignity.
Our Jewish voices are badly needed in the national fight for LGBTQ rights. Keshet staff and leaders met with senators or their staffers in 8 states to call them into action for Jewish and LGBTQ equality and to reject the hateful idea that “people of faith” are anti-LGBTQ. We texted over 55,000 voters to connect them with their representatives and ensure their voices were heard. This is how legislative change happens: text by text, meeting by meeting.
In 2022, we will continue reaching out to voters, meeting with elected officials, and mobilizing our Jewish communities until we end anti-LGBTQ exclusion and ensure every person gets to work, live, learn, play sports, and yes, use a bathroom, with dignity. This year, our focus remains on the Equality Act at the national level, and we are also focused on state-level legislation in Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Arizona. These states have regressive policies for LGBTQ folks and established Jewish communities. Making them the perfect place for us to advocate for LGBTQ folks as Jews.
But frankly, it’s a tough time. Many right-wing politicians have learned that they can mobilize their voters by claiming LGBTQ people and families are dangerous. In 2021 alone, 21 anti-LGBTQ bills were signed into law at the state level. Only 5 pro-LGBTQ state-level bills were made law. Currently, in most states, you can legally be fired, denied housing, prevented from using bathrooms or playing sports, or subject to dozens of other humiliations simply for being LGBTQ.
We are on the right side of history. And most people are with us: over ¾ of Americans, across all political parties, support LGBTQ rights, including the majority of people who consider themselves religious. To win legal protection, we need to be more powerful than the made-up fears that right-wing politicians exploit. We need supporters, advocates, and allies like you to join us for state and national action! Check our events calendar to see what’s coming up, stay tuned for emails announcing new events, and be sure to invite your friends to get involved with Keshet. Reach out to your elected officials today, even if they’re already on board, and tell them to bring the Equality Act to a vote and pass it.
If you are fired up and want to plan with us, whether you’re a seasoned activist or someone ready to take your first step, email [email protected] and we’ll guide you every step of the way.
The United States is at its best when diverse people and communities join together for freedom and equality for all of us. Today we can make equal civil rights a reality for all Americans, not just those who are straight and/or cisgender.
From the Community Mobilization team and all of Keshet, we deeply appreciate you being a part of our work to advance LGBTQ rights, and we look forward to taking action with you this year!