Our Vision, Mission and Values

Fair Wisconsin envisions a fair, safe, and inclusive society in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people are treated with dignity and respect.

Fair Wisconsin Inc. works to build a fair, safe, and inclusive Wisconsin for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people by advancing, achieving, and protecting LGBTQ civil rights through lobbying, legislative advocacy, grassroots organizing, coalition building and electoral involvement.

These efforts are designed to educate the general voting public, sensitize the media, promote a politically active and effective organizational membership, and better inform policy makers on issues of concern to the organization’s members.

Fair Wisconsin carries out this mission in accordance with the following values:

  • We value human dignity.
  • We recognize, respect, and celebrate the diversity within the LGBTQ community.
  • We believe LGBTQ and allied people should shape and inform the work of our organization to ensure we are responsive and accountable to the people we serve.
  • We believe a multi-issue approach is necessary to address the diverse challenges facing the LGBTQ community.
  • We believe social, racial, and economic justice are key intersectional issues that impact LGBTQ people and their families.
  • We believe change is possible through strategic political action and public engagement.
  • We believe in developing strategic collaborations, partnerships, and coalitions with LGBTQ and allied organizations.
  • We believe in maintaining and expanding our statewide presence.
  • We believe in building organizational infrastructure to support the capacity of the LGBTQ equality movement.

Click here to learn about Fair Wisconsin Education Fund, our related 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to educate the general public about the harms of discrimination toward LGBTQ individuals and build more inclusive communities and workplaces for LGBTQ Wisconsinites.

Our History

Fair Wisconsin is one of the state’s most respected advocacy groups and has a proud history in political action, education, grassroots organizing, and outreach in the cause of LGBTQ equality.

Founded in 1994, Fair Wisconsin, Inc. is a 501(c)(4) organization with a mission to protect and advance the civil rights of LGBTQ people through electoral involvement and direct legislative advocacy. In 2007, Fair Wisconsin PAC, a political action committee, was launched with the purpose of electing pro-fairness individuals at the state and local level.

In 2006, Fair Wisconsin organized a massive effort and diverse coalition to fight Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and civil unions. We educated hundreds of thousands of citizens about the dangerous effects of the amendment, built a statewide sustainable grassroots infrastructure and developed relationships with key elected officials around the state. Unfortunately the amendment passed, but the foundation we built during the campaign in every community in the state left us in a strong position to accomplish our ultimate goal of equality for LGBTQ Wisconsinites.

Following the amendment campaign, Fair Wisconsin launched the Fair Wisconsin Political Action Committee (PAC) in 2007. The PAC supports select pro-fairness individuals in local and state races in Wisconsin, and issues candidate endorsements at all levels of the ballot. In 2010, Fair Wisconsin PAC merged with the Milwaukee-based Human Rights League PAC to create one statewide LGBTQ political action committee.

In 2009, we built another coalition with our national and regional allies to protect domestic partners. Wisconsin became the first state in the Midwest to protect same-sex couples via legislation and made us the first state with an existing constitutional amendment banning both marriage equality and civil unions to enact domestic partnerships.

Fair Wisconsin, represented by Lambda Legal, became the sole intervening party in a lawsuit challenging the domestic partnership registry in 2010.  Wisconsin Family Action and the Alliance Defense Fund asserted that the registry violated our state’s constitutional ban on marriage equality and civil unions.  In June of 2011, the Dane County Circuit Court upheld the registry in a strong victory for fairness.  Our opponents have appealed that decision, which was upheld in December 2012.  A subsequent appeal was filed with the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, which accepted the case in June 2013.

During the 2011 Capitol protests in Madison, Fair Wisconsin was proud to be the first LGBTQ organization in the country to stand in solidarity with our union brothers and sisters.  We gained national attention for our bold statement, appearing on MSNBC’s The Ed Schultz Show to discuss our involvement in the worker’s rights movement.

Since that time, Fair Wisconsin has played a critical role in advancing equality in local communities, including the passage of domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian employees in Milwaukee County and the cities of Appleton, Racine, Manitowoc, Eau Claire, Kenosha, Janesville and Stevens Point.  We were also able to support a successful bipartisan effort to protect an inclusive pupil nondiscrimination law from repeal in late 2011.

In 2013, Fair Wisconsin merged with another successful Wisconsin LGBTQ education and advocacy organization, Equality Wisconsin, a co-founder of the 2006 Fair Wisconsin campaign.  Originally incorporated as Center Advocates in 2001, this organization included elements of the LGBT Alliance for Equality and the Human Rights League.  The organization changed its name to Equality Wisconsin in 2009 to better reflect its mission.

Equality Wisconsin helped gay and lesbian couples gain access to family health insurance benefits and recognition through domestic partner initiatives at the City of Milwaukee (2001), Milwaukee Public Schools (2007-8), Milwaukee County (2011), and the City of Racine (2012).  Equality Wisconsin won state resources to increase services to low-income and at risk LGBTQ people in the 18 counties in the Madison and Milwaukee metropolitan areas in 2007.  The organization has helped train State of Wisconsin employees on gender identity, won protections for transgender and gender-non-conforming Milwaukee residents in 2007, and played a leading role in a statewide effort to add gender identity protections to Wisconsin law.

Building coalitions with both progressive allies and LGBTQ partner organizations is the cornerstone of Fair Wisconsin’s success. This approach demonstrates the depth and breadth of support that LGBTQ issues and equality now have in Wisconsin. All of our entities are active partners in multiple coalitions, making Fair Wisconsin uniquely positioned to represent the LGBTQ interests in the broader community.

With a statewide board of directors and a full-time staff, Fair Wisconsin represents the Badger State in the Equality Federation, the national alliance of state-based LGBTQ advocacy organizations, and is a proud member of Community Shares of Wisconsin.