I bundled up to avoid the impending sleet and ran into Company Cafe on the Katy Trail to meet Doug Jacobson and Bert Gallagher, founders of Equality Vodka. The restaurant was uncharacteristically empty due to the weather so we had the entire place to ourselves to chat about their journey. This was another story that may not be my environmental norm, but was too important to pass up. I was eager to learn more about the ultra premium vodka with a simple agenda, equality for all. Here is the article as seen in the Katy Trail Weekly.
Life is a journey full of experiences that challenge us to learn more, change and grow. Doug Jacobson and Bert Gallagher, friends for over 15 years are founders of Equality Vodka which recently launched in Dallas. Equality Vodka is an ultra premium vodka with a simple agenda, equality for all.
After living through their friends and strangers injustices for over thirty years, Jacobson and Gallagher were looking for a way to contribute to bringing equality to everyone. The two long time friends had contributed in various ways over the years, but they were on the search for just the right way to make their mark. Jacobson describes the exciting moment Gallagher walked into their office with the idea for the first time, “He (Gallagher) had a bottle, and it said Equality. He was like, we can give back with every bottle we sell, and it was the impact of that after 30 years of trying to figure this out.”
Jacobson and Gallagher took the next three plus years to develop Equality Vodka, committed to provide funds to further the advancement of the equality movement for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. Twenty percent of gross profit off of every bottle purchased is donated. For the first two years, this money will be earmarked for Lambda Legal.
“You never know where life will take you” said Gallagher as he spoke of how he was first introduced to some of the injustices in this world at a Lambda Legal event. Lambda Legal is the a legal organization whose mission is to “achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work”.
Lambda Legal has their work cut out for them in Texas. Thirty seven states now recognize same sex marriages, Texas is not one of them and still does not have laws to protect against discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Recently in the news, the Austin female couple, together for more than three decades, were granted the first same-sex marriage license in Texas history. Despite this ruling, it was made clear by the Travis County Clerk’s office that they would not be issuing more same sex marriage licenses.
Equality Vodka is on a mission to bring their high quality vodka and message nationwide. The nonprofit chosen to receive funds will change to provide funding for several aspects of injustice in the LGBT community. Jacobson and Gallagher noted that there are more aspects of LGBT injustice beyond marriage inequality and job discrimination such as laws that inhibit or greatly complicate adoptions for same sex couples and LGBT youth. The friends visited the LGBT youth center in Los Angeles to learn more about LGBT homeless youth, often called a “hidden crisis” because of the lack of attention it receives. Many homeless youth lose their homes at 13 or 14 years old when they come out to their parents, and studies show that 320,000 to 400,000 gay and transgender youth face homelessness each year.
The first Equality Vodka bottles hit the shelves in September of 2014 here in Dallas. Bottled and distilled from premium grain in New York, Equality Vodka has a light taste on the palate, is priced reasonably, and comparable in quality to something like a Belvedere. In just a few short months on the shelf, Equality Vodka is expanding throughout Dallas, mainly by word of mouth. And after meeting these two inspiring founders I can see why. Equality Vodka is their key to turn their passion into action and help make the world a better place. Now they just need our help. As Gallagher says, “Ask for Equality Vodka where you eat, drink and buy” to not only have a tasty cocktail but support equality for all.