An article in Sunday’s New York Times shined a spotlight on HRC’s Project One America, a newly launched campaign to dramatically expand LGBT equality in the South.

The article, “Gay Rights Push Shifts Its Focus South and West,” details HRC’s plans to bring equality to states like Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, where there are no non-discrimination protections for LGBT people at the state or local level in employment, housing or public accommodations, and where each state’s constitution expressly prohibits marriage equality.

“The Human Rights Campaign, which is spending $8.5 million and hiring 20 people for its Project One America effort in the South, has conducted extensive research on the day-to-day experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in its three focus states, the Times article reads. “Fifty-four percent of those surveyed were in committed relationships. And a quarter of gay parents surveyed had no legal relationship to their children because of state prohibitions on gay adoption, including those helping their partners raise children from a previous heterosexual marriage.

Mindful of cultural differences, the Washington-based group is also seeking to adapt to the rural South as it cultivates ties to local church leaders, N.A.A.C.P. officials and educators. That includes holding meetings at local Waffle Houses — but not on Wednesday nights, when many people are in church.”

The Times article talks about the challenges that lie ahead, including the fact that HRC is is moving “into territory where there is almost no unified network of support and where gay people are more likely to hide who they are, making them more difficult to reach.”

"'The prevalence of the closet presents a challenge far greater than what we’ve seen in the other regions of the country,' said Chad H. Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which is opening up field offices in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas in an effort to build stronger ties to schools, religious institutions and political cultural leaders," the article reads. “'You risk being kicked out of your home. You risk discrimination on the job or being fired. You risk rejection at your place of religious celebration.'”

Read the full article here.

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