It’s time to brag on someone who has made quite an impact on progress we’ve seen here in North Carolina. Ian Palmquist celebrates 10 years with Equality NC.

It’s time to brag on someone who has made quite an impact on progress we’ve seen here in North Carolina. Ian Palmquist celebrates 10 years with Equality NC. 2009 was a landmark year under his leadership as Executive Director. There was legislation that had been in the works for a long time, and through Ian’s guidance in working with legislative allies it became law.

  • For the sixth year in a row, a proposed state constitutional marriage amendment was killed in committee. North Carolina is the last state standing in the South without an amendment.
  • The School Violence Prevention Act to address bullying and harassment in schools, including acts targeting LGBT students, passed. It marks the first time sexual orientation and gender identity are included in North Carolina law. I have to give a shout out to Equality NC; the organization , and EqualityNC received the “Most Amazing Achievement” award from the national Equality Federation because this is the first gender identity-inclusive law in the South.
  • Another step forward is the passing of the Healthy Youth Act, that enables comprehensive sex education program in grades 7-9. Before this bill, abstinence-only education was the only option.
  • The state held the line on funding for HIV prevention programs and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program will continue to provide low-income patients with the medicine they need.

So we may not have full equality under the law here, the building blocks are in place in a state that has a completely fringe Republican party and quite a few DINO Dems. But Ian’s hard work made it possible for those outside the South to see that progress can be made at the state level despite an environment steeped in conservative faith communities.

So congratulations Ian, I look forward to another groundbreaking Equality NC Conference and Gala panels this year as well as the 2010 Day of Action, where the org will train LGBTs from around the area to the General Assembly and gather to meet state representatives about equality issues.

More on Ian below the fold.

 

He has served on Equality NC’s staff since 1999, and as Executive Director since July 2006, following nearly three years as Co-Director. Under his leadership, the group has expanded its outreach across the state, strengthened its political clout in the legislature, doubled its expenditures to elect pro-LGBT candidates, and built strategic relationships with non-LGBT allies through coalition work. In 2009, Equality NC secured passage of safe schools legislation, the first LGBT-inclusive bill in state history.

His abilities have earned respect at the national, state, and local level. In addition to his work with Equality NC, Palmquist serves several organizations in other capacities. He is a board member of the Equality Federation, the national association of statewide LGBT advocacy groups. He chaired the group’s board from 2004-2007, leading it through a period of significant growth, including the hiring of its first Executive Director. He was a member of the National Organizing Collective of the Gay Men’s Health Summit and worked as Local Chair to bring the conference to Raleigh in May, 2003.

Palmquist also volunteers his time as a founding member of the board of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. He is a steering committee member of the North Carolina AIDS Action Network and represents Equality NC in several broad-based coalitions.