Our Advocacy Approach

FreeState’s guiding advocacy principles:

  1. Create systematic and positive change for LGBTQ Marylanders,
  2. Build sustainable and collective power for our community through community organizing,
  3. Establish equity, diversity, and inclusion by highlighting the often invisible needs, perspectives, and voices of the most marginalized in our community,
  4. Ensure that laws, policies, and institutions work for and protect members of our community who are most at-risk of discrimination, and they will work best for the community at large.

What is Power?

  • Power is the ability to act and make change.
  • Relational power is the ability to build personal and institutional relationships with friends, family, political decision makers, bureaucrats, business associates, and the news media. These relationships are critical to community organizing, which builds sustainable, mutual, public, fluid, and collective power. This power of organized people, or civic power, allows us to make agreements, negotiate, or resist the private power of money and the public power of government.

How do we build power for our community?

  • We build power by organizing.
  • The community organizing cycle, developed by the Industrial Areas Foundation, includes:
    • Identifying training leaders,
    • Building community and expanding networks,
    • Identifying shared issues,
    • Researching actions and building agenda,
    • Building coalitions,
    • Public action,
    • Learning lesson(s) 

How do we develop our agenda?

  • Our agenda is the plan of legislative and policy issues we will pursue. We believe that it should be informed by the community we aim to serve, especially those who are most marginalized, through an intersectional perspective. So, we meet with our clients, community advocates, experts, and the broader LGBTQ community to set it.
  • To understand and prioritize the issues, we conduct relational meetings, house meetings, and issues assemblies. In relational meetings, we listen to the needs and perspectives of our clients to understand which issues affect them. In house meetings, we engage with eight to 12 people, including clients and LGBTQ advocates, to build community while gaining further input about which issues impact the community. Finally, in issue assemblies, we prioritize the policy and legislative issues we will lead that year through small group discussions and voting on the issues.