As support for LGBT equality has moved into the mainstream and protections like marriage and employment equality have gained a foothold in key parts of the country, LGBT rights groups are turning with a renewed focus to the area where LGBT people are the most vulnerable: the Deep South and the Mountain West.
On Saturday, the Human Rights Campaign announced Project One America, an $8.5 million commitment to advancing equality in Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. The campaign has a three-year budget and a "dedicated staff of 20," the group reports.
From HRC's press release:
"Right now, this country is deeply divided into two Americas--one where LGBT equality is nearly a reality and the other where LGBT people lack the most fundamental measures of equal citizenship. Project One America is an unparalleled effort to close that gap, and it opens up a bold, new chapter in the LGBT civil rights movement of this generation. In this grand struggle for equality, we can't write off anyone, anywhere," said HRC President and Arkansas native Chad Griffin.
Project One America is the very first campaign of its kind to work exclusively on LGBT equality in 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 Associated Press reports that the campaign is "based on using chats and front-porch visits between relatives and friends to foster an environment more welcoming toward people of all sexual orientations" -- because people are far more likely to support LGBT equality once they realize they know and love LGBT people.
More, after the jump.