Letter from Tim Sweeney
President and CEO


Reflecting on 2008

Forty years ago this past June, the gay rights movement was launched when patrons at the Stonewall Inn in New York City decided to stand their ground against the pervasive intimidation and discrimination they constantly faced. We will forever be in their debt.

Over the past four decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans have made a tremendous amount of progress on the road to full equality. As someone who’s been involved in this social justice movement for more than three decades, the past eighteen months have been among the most exciting.

In 2008, the Gill Foundation dedicated $16.8 million to the cause of equality, including $10 million in grants. In 2009, we plan to dedicate approximately $16.2 million, including $9 million in grants, in spite of our losses in the market.

The goal of our work is straightforward: we want to create an America in which all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, are treated and protected equally. Here are some highlights of the work of both the Gill Foundation and the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado during 2008.

Gill Foundation

As LGBT citizens, we seek the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of American life. We believe that these opportunities come about only after LGBT Americans have been able to gain important legal protections and societal acceptance in five key areas: a healthy self; family; career; society; and spirituality.

As part of our annual report, we’ve compiled some examples of the inspired work being done by our partners in these five areas as well as the reason why we fund this important work:

icon-selfHealthy Self – The Anti-Defamation League’s “No Place for Hate’’ program gives kids an appreciation for the importance of diversity and mutual respect. Groundspark continued its visionary work by launching its latest film, “Straightlaced – How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up.” These two programs are good examples of the strong foundations that young people need to grow into healthy adults. The brutal murder of transgender teenager Angie Zapata last year in Greeley, Colorado, made the rationale for our work in this area crystal clear. Following her murder, Angie’s killer referred to this vibrant and courageous young lady as “it” and was recorded saying that “all gay things must die.” The conviction of her murderer this past April is thought to be the first successful prosecution of a trans-related hate crime.

icon-familyFamily – The National Center for Lesbian Rights, among others, successfully pursued a California Supreme Court case that resulted in marriage equality in the Golden State. In anticipation of this landmark ruling, the Equality California Institute launched “Let California Ring,’’ a groundbreaking public education campaign that allowed us to share stories of our lives and our loves with other Californians. Despite the fact that marriage was only in place for five months, the Williams Institute provided rigorous research to document California’s 18,000 same-sex marriages.The loss in California last November was horrible. But within six months of our defeat, same-sex marriage was made legal in four additional states: Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. As exciting as these victories are, 62 percent of Americans live in states that do not recognize same-sex relationships.

  • The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the LGBT community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

    — Wikipedia

  • Gill Foundation Grants

    The Gill Foundation celebrates its 15th Anniversary in 2009. Since the foundation began in 1994, we have invested more than $162 million, including $96 million in grants, to support programs and nonprofits that share our commitment to equal rights for all Americans.

    Approximately 80 percent of the foundation’s work and funding is dedicated to LGBT nonprofits — both national and state organizations — that work every day to bring about equality. Funding to these LGBT organizations, including those in Colorado, is provided by the Gill Foundation. Colorado is our home, so the remaining 20 percent of our funding goes to nonprofits in the state that improve the quality of life for all residents. Funding for these programs is given in the name of the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado. The Fund is a program of the Gill Foundation.

  • No Place for Hate

    No Place for Hate® was developed to organize schools to work together and develop projects that enhance the appreciation of diversity and foster harmony amongst diverse groups. The campaign empowers schools to promote respect for individual and group differences while challenging prejudice and bigotry.

    Click here for more information.

  • Straightlaced includes the perspectives of teens who self-identify as straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning and represent all points of the gender spectrum. With courage and unexpected humor, they open up their lives to the camera: choosing between “male” and “female” deodorant; deciding whether to go along with anti-gay taunts in the locker room; having the courage to take ballet; avoiding the restroom so they won’t get beaten up; or mourning the suicide of a classmate. It quickly becomes clear that just about everything teens do requires thinking about gender and sexuality.

    Coming of age today has become increasingly complex and challenging; Straightlaced offers both teens and adults a way out of anxiety, fear and violence and points the way toward a more inclusive, empowering culture.

    Click here for more information.

  • Angie Zapata

    In order to call attention to Angie’s life and death, a coalition of organizations rallied to bring attention to the various issues at play during the trial of her killer. The group launched a website, placed newspaper ads statewide, and advanced the push for federal hate crimes legislation.

    Click here for more information.

  • The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

    Founded in 1977, NCLR is a non-profit, public interest law firm which litigates precedent-setting cases at the trial and appellate court levels; advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBT community; provides free legal assistance to LGBT people and their legal advocates; and conducts community education on LGBT legal issues.

    Click here for more information.

  • Let California Ring is an independent, nonprofit public education campaign to open hearts and minds about the unique respect, dignity, and support that come with marriage.

    Click here for more information.

  • Relationship Recognition

    States that afford the freedom to marry to all caring, committed couples.

    States with statutes that make available to same-sex couples virtually all of the legal protections of marriage, but not the dignity and societal respect that accompanies the term “marriage.”

    States with very limited legal protections associated with marriage.

    States that recognize out-of-state marriages entered into by same-sex couples, but do not allow same-sex couples to marry.

    No statewide recognition, or legal protections of marriage for same-sex couples.

    Click here for more detailed information.

  • ACLU LGBT Project

    On April 29, 2009, a federal court awarded Schroer maximum damages of $491,190 for back pay, other financial losses and emotional pain and suffering after finding the Library illegally discriminated against Schroer because of her sex. At trial, Schroer testified that she had applied for a position with the Library of Congress as the senior terrorism research analyst and was offered the job. Prior to starting work, she took her future boss to lunch to explain that she was in the process of transitioning and wished to start work presenting as female.

    The following day, Schroer received a call from her future boss rescinding the offer, telling her that she wasn’t a “good fit” for the Library of Congress. The U.S. Department of Justice decided not to appeal a federal court ruling awarding transgender veteran Diane Schroer the maximum compensation for the discrimination she suffered after being refused a job with the Library of Congress.

    Click here for more information on this groundbreaking case.

  • Nondiscrimination

    Statewide employment nondiscrimination statute that specifies sexual orientation and gender identity / expression.

    Statewide employment nondiscrimination statute that specifies sexual orientation only.States with very limited legal protections associated with marriage.

    No LGBT-specific statewide employment nondiscrimination statute.

    Click here for more detailed information.

  • ThinkB4YouSpeak.com

    GLSEN encourages kids to re-think homophobic remarks such as “that’s so gay.”

    Click here for more information.

  • Safe Schools Improvement Act

    “School bullying is a national crisis, and we need a national solution to deal with it. That is why I am here today. Teachers, administrators and other school personnel need additional support and clear guidance about how to ensure that all kids feel safe in school. Congress can make sure they have that guidance and support by making anti-bullying policies mandatory in all of our nation's schools.” — Sirdeaner Walker

    Click here to view the video

  • People For The American Way

    Click here to visit the site

  • El Centro Su Teatro

    El Centro Su Teatro annually produces 4 to 5 original works, adaptations, and other Chicano/Latino plays relevant to the concerns, celebrations, and social issues of our community.

    Click here to visit the site

  • Thunder River Theatre Company

    To better understand the human experience, Thunder River Theatre Company creates professional and provocative theatre for the Roaring Fork Valley.

    Click here to visit the site

  • Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation

    The foundation focuses on removing financial as well as other barriers that might prevent students from securing an education, and gaining employment.

    Click here to visit the site

  • Project Angel Heart

    Delivering nutritious meals to improve quality of life, at no cost, for those coping with life-threatening illness.

    Click here to visit the site

  • 9to5

    In 1973, a group of office workers in Boston got together to talk about issues which had no names, sexual harassment, work/family challenges, and pay equity. From this beginning, 9to5 emerged as the national organization dedicated to putting working women’s issues on the public agenda. 9to5’s constituents are low-wage women, women in traditionally female jobs, and those who’ve experienced any form of discrimination. Membership is open to all. Now in its fourth decade, 9to5’s mission is to strengthen women’s ability to win economic justice.

    Click here to visit the site

  • PeaceJam

    PeaceJam’s Global Call to Action is an international movement of young people who have decided to work together to solve the most pressing issues of our time. In small groups and clubs, in cities and in villages, Global Call to Action groups are tackling important problems facing our planet — and we are making a difference.

    Click here to visit the site

  • The Gay & Lesbian Fund Building

    The diversity of groups using the space was tremendous. They ranged from the American Red Cross, Colorado Renewable Energy Society, Women’s Resource Agency, Division of Youth Corrections, and Sierra Club, to Iraq Veterans Against the War, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Suicide Prevention Partnership, and All Souls Unitarian Church.

    Click here to visit the site

Throughout this letter, you’ll find useful information and links beyond the written text. Click on the highlighted text for additional information and links.