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Online Extra: Political Notes: Equality California rebrands itself

by Matthew S. Bajko

Equality California supporters held signs featuring the organization's new logo at the San Francisco Pride parade in June. Photo: Courtesy EQCA
Equality California supporters held signs featuring the organization's new logo at the San Francisco Pride parade in June. Photo: Courtesy EQCA  

As it continues to become more engaged on the national level, Equality California is rebranding itself with a new logo, tagline, and refined mission statement that reflect its increased focus beyond LGBT issues within the Golden State.

The logo is described as embedding an equal sign on top of the state of California using lowercase letters "e" and "c" to form the symbol. Done in a burnt orange color, which combines the old logo's use of red and orange colors, the new icon is also being described as a speech bubble or microphone.

"It indicates the role we play as the voice for the LGBT community and as a thought leader," EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur explained in an interview last week with the Bay Area Reporter.

Certain versions of the logo include the words "for all" split between it. The phrase symbolizes how LGBTQ people are a part of every racial, ethnic, and religious community and indicates EQCA's focus on not just LGBT-specific issues but also seeking social justice for all communities of which LGBTQ people are a part.

As of Monday (August 7), the statewide LGBT advocacy organization is officially dropping its old logo for the new. The previous one featured the agency's abbreviated name split between two squares. The first with the "EQ" in white lettering was red, while the second with the "CA" in white lettering was orange.

"When we did focus testing, the red and orange colors are associated closely with us and we didn't want to lose the colors," said Zbur.

EQCA's new tagline â€" "Until the work is done" â€" answers a question it has repeatedly faced in recent years on whether it is still needed in light of the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal and California has enacted numerous LGBT rights bills over the last decade. The old tagline was "Building a state of equality."

"It really signifies the fact, with part of our focus being national now, we know we need to achieve civil rights protections at the federal level and in other states," said Zbur. Last week the agency quietly uploaded a 76-second video to its YouTube page, which can be viewed at, explaining the new logo and tagline. Of course, the equal sign has long been associated with the national LGBT rights group the Human Rights Campaign. Its symbol, unveiled in 1995, is a yellow equal sign in the middle of a blue square.

Asked if EQCA was appropriating HRC's symbol, Zbur responded, "No. Ours looks very different from the HRC equal sign."

EQCA's board approved the rebranding components in May. Since then it has been slowly rolling out the revised logo, which could be seen on T-shirts and signs at Pride parades throughout the state in June.

Global consulting firm Prophet designed the new logo. Michael Dunn its gay chairman and chief executive officer, is a former EQCA board member and was honored at the nonprofit's San Francisco gala earlier this year.

Prophet donated its work pro bono at an estimated value of $350,000. EQCA is spending roughly $10,000 to update its website, stationary, staff business cards, and other printed materials to include the new logo and tagline.

As for its mission statement, EQCA has tweaked it to now say it aims "to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people" by bringing "the voices of LGBTQ people to institutions of power in California and across the United States." It formerly had stated that EQCA's "mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California."

"It is not really different in terms of the priorities of what we are doing," said Zbur. "It is a more concise articulation of what we are doing."

Federal issues are a growing concern for the agency. In January, EQCA hired Washington, D.C. resident Valerie Ploumpis as its first national policy director. Since then it has mobilized LGBT Californians to contact their congressional representatives and lobby them to protect the Affordable Care Act. More recently it asked its members to voice opposition to President Donald Trump's call to ban transgender people from serving in the armed forces.

When Zbur joined EQCA in 2014, he moved to expand the scope of the Los Angeles-based organization to include national issues and to have its political action committee endorse more candidates for federal office. Most notably EQCA early endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2015 before she had officially declared her candidacy. (A move some criticized at the time.)

In undertaking its rebranding effort a year ago, EQCA wanted to gauge if its decisions to focus its energies beyond California were supported by its members and the larger LGBT community. More than 1,000 people took part in a digital survey it conducted of its members, while it also held focus groups with LGBTQ leaders and elected officials, both LGBT and straight.

"We really wanted to take a step back and look at it to understand if the decisions we made were good ones based on the priorities for the LGBTQ community," said Zbur. The key finding from the members survey was that there is a continued desire to see EQCA push for passage of "cutting-edge legislation in California that advances equality and social justice," said Zbur.

In terms of the issues EQCA should be focused on in California, the survey findings put the education and protection of LGBTQ youth and the needs of the transgender community as high priorities. Another key concern was protecting the LGBT community's access to health care.

All three issues are planks of EQCA's Fair Share for Equality platform it has been pushing in recent years.

"It confirmed for us where we were headed when we refocused the organization in 2014 was accurate," said Zbur, adding that, "people understand there is still a lot of work to do to address these disparities in health and well-being."

The second most important cause EQCA members want the agency to work on is to further LGBT rights in other states and in Washington, D.C., said Zbur.

"People wanted us to have a strong role in resisting the threats our community is facing from the Trump administration," he said. "They also want us to be taking our California legislation to help our colleagues in other states."

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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail


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