There's been a lot of coverage in the LGBT press recently about cutbacks at organizations working for our rights. There's no denying it's scary. There's no denying we've had some worrying moments.
Here at Equality North Carolina, we've been holding our own and created a conservative budget for the coming year. It means we have to wait to create and fill staff positions in the areas of policy and communications. It means the four of us on staff will need to be a bit more creative and stay focused on our priorities: getting our anti-bullying bill passed, holding back a constitutional amendment against marriage equality for the sixth year in a row, showing our power and dignity through Lobby Day on March 24, putting on an even bigger and better Equality Conference & Gala to re-inspire activism next year, making sure everyone feels valued within our glorious statewide movement.
We're ready and we know why. It's because we're fortunate and truly honored to represent the needs of extraordinary people all across our state. People like all of the college and high school students who attended the Equality Conference & Gala this year, or all of the energized young folks who gathered at Prop 8 rallies held across the state. We salute the people involved with local AIDS groups; local PFLAGs; pro-equality churches, campuses, and nonprofits; pro-equality blogs, websites, and publications; and NC Pride and all the local Pride events we attended this year.
We salute our friends at Replacements, Ltd., Food Lion, Haas McNeil & Associates, PA, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, and all the other pro-equality companies that so generously sponsored this year's Equality Conference & Gala in the face of an economic meltdown. We salute the 88 individuals who made gifts or pledges at the gala in response to a matching challenge from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation--the challenge was to raise $5,000 and we raised almost $14,000 in amounts ranging from $5 to $1,200.
We salute our board members, interns, and volunteers who all stepped up this year to help us raise needed money and inspire needed activists. We hosted 750 people at five special events across the state this year. Just think of the ripple effects. Just think of the future. With friends like ours--with the sheer amazing variety of people who have joined us--we're ready. Most of all, we're grateful.