On December 12, in a surprise announcement, The Empire State Pride Agenda said that it was discontinuing operations “in 2016.” ESPA consists of two tax exempt corporations; ESPA a 501(c)4 and ESPA Foundation a 501(c)3 which is eligible to receive tax deductible contributions.
The announcement came after a unanimous decision by ESPA’s board that it had accomplished everything that they set out to accomplish over the 25 years that they have been in existence. The combined budget of the two entities was $2.5 million in 2013 with net assets of $1 million at that year’s end.
Over those 25 years, ESPA represented the interests of LGBT New Yorker’s in Albany and they did it well. Marriage equality came to New York in 2011 — four years before the issue would be settled at the Supreme Court with Obergefell v. Hodges. In some respects GMHC (which is now a $25 million organization) evolved from ESPA.
As for their decision to disband, I wholeheartedly disagree unless there has been a dramatic change in the organization’s finances. There is much work to be done on a national level and ESPA could be a valued participant. We could use another organization to keep HRC “honest.”