Dear Friend,

Admittedly, it seems a bit late to be sharing details only now regarding our focus for the “new” year at SAVE. The thing is, in my mind and perhaps in yours too, 2020 didn’t quite end on December 31st. Instead, like a bad New Year’s hangover, it lingered on – and was so terribly painful to endure.

Here we were, the morning after, still waiting on Congress to certify the presidential election and still hoping for COVID-19 vaccinations to restore our daily lives. Add to that the insurgence on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and the sluggish vaccine distribution... All I wanted was the right moment to slam the door on 2020 – so that I could finally look to the new year with some sense of optimism.

There’s a saying, “Go as far as you can see, and when you get there, you'll be able to see farther.” Poignant words by Scottish Philosopher Thomas Carlyle – and rather telling today, from my desk here in late February.

So here we are, little by little starting to see a new day, once again filled with hope. Undoubtedly it was the inauguration and transfer of power to the Biden/Harris Administration that helped shift my mental mode from doom-and-gloom to my natural state of sunshine and rainbows, which is always a good place to start.

I have been reflecting with the SAVE staff, board, and volunteers on what we were able to accomplish last year while considering what comes next. Last year at this time, I’d shared with you that our focus for 2020 would be to reignite the Field Program. I reported that in order to make it through the critical election year, our first priority would be to rebuild SAVE’s core competency in canvassing and in connecting with people face-to-face using a solid crew of volunteers. And we did so with resounding success!

Our newest staff member Eddie Kring, Community & Field Organizer, shined bright in making sure we did everything possible to get out the vote here in Miami-Dade, and also for the run-off election in Georgia for those key seats in their state senate in early January (more evidence of how the 2020 “hangover period” played out!).

The Equality Act & Other Public Policy

In 2021, we are poised to see historic advancements for LGBTQ rights with the most pro-LGBTQ administration ever at the nation’s helm and with strong margins of support in the U.S. House of Representatives – though as is always the case in politics, nothing is guaranteed. Passage in the Senate will be razor-thin, and we have already begun working to ensure the Equality Act and the Do No Harm Act become law.

On the local level, while 14 states have already introduced anti-transgender legislation, as of today, Florida is not one of those states. SAVE sees this as an opportunity to drive change by advocating for statewide nondiscrimination protections, expanded hate-crime laws, and policy that helps curb the HIV epidemic.

After the U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Equality Act, we will need to lean on our U.S. Senators to encourage them to vote to pass the historic legislation that has been in the making for more than 45 years. Even if you have to hold your nose, please join in the effort in reaching out to Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. Please visit our Action page for their contact information and recommended talking points.

Focus in 2021 by Being Responsive to 2020

Our strategic focus for 2021 will continue to be on fortifying our community engagement and fieldwork. This continuation is because we are not letting our guard down and we want to do all that is necessary to be prepared for the next round of elections in 2022 and 2024.

The Field Program will continue to do community service projects with elected officials, especially with food distributions to address hunger and food insecurity in the midst of the COVID pandemic. And new this year, the Field Program will be redeveloped into a deep canvassing model to combat the misinformation that caused us to lose half a dozen South Florida pro-equality candidates in the 2020 election.

It was said more times than I can count on one hand after the November election, that “we have work to do,” and SAVE is here with the grit and critical thinking necessary to win. By focusing on the field, we return to SAVE’s grassroots organizing efforts that support our strategic imperatives:

  • To advocate for policy at all levels of government and business that support the LGBTQ community’s ability to thrive and reduce harm.
  • To mobilize the LGBTQ community and pro-equality voters to turn out in service to the community and at the polls for elections.
  • To seek out, encourage, and support pro-equality public service leaders who are running for office elected – regardless of party affiliation. This includes legislators, judges, county commissioners, municipal council members, and mayors.

We also are encouraging you to be involved as we will continue to rely on your crucial financial support and volunteer hours. There’s room for everyone at SAVE. So, please let us know if you are interested in volunteering to serve on an endorsement panel or if you wish to be part of our wide-ranging volunteer actions. And of course, to learn more about how exactly your donation dollars support our necessary programs and initiatives.

For more than 28 years, SAVE has dedicated itself to protecting people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) against discrimination. Since our founding in 1993, SAVE has been “home” to civic-minded community members who believe in fighting for equality and fairness for all. They are the champions, heroes, activists, and ordinary people who work hard every day to search for and believe in a fair world – for everyone.

Despite busy schedules, caring and committed members of our volunteer community make time to participate in endorsement panels, call voters or knock on doors to get out the vote, organize myriad events to build awareness of our issues, and engage the broader community in having conversations that effectively change hearts, minds, and, of course, policy.

I am so looking forward to working alongside you in our fight for equality. I know that together we are strong and together we can carry our energy, enthusiasm, and hope into this new year – and well into the future.

There’s another saying, this one by E. Joseph Crossman, an American businessman, that goes, “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night's sleep.” Well, it’s time to wake up my friends, because we’ve got a lot of work to do this year.

Please feel free to reach out to me anytime via email, text, or just call me directly to set a time to get together. Rest assured, I will be reaching out to you.

Yours in service,

Orlando Gonzales
Executive Director