Jeff Ayers, Executive Director
In 2010, Jeff moved to Charleston and with the encouragement of Linda Ketner, founder of SC Equality, he joined the board in 2011. Shortly after, in 2012, he became 501(c)(3) board chair. In 2014, he became Interim Executive Director and in 2016 the Executive Director.
During his tenure, SC Equality has grown into the largest LGBT equality organization in South Carolina and was instrumental in the implementation of the Post DOMA Litigation Task Force and the TransAction Task Force. Most recently, Jeff lead the charge and played a vital role in the strategy of the now historic lawsuit filed in the federal courts which brought marriage equality to South Carolina for the first time in history in November of 2014. In 2015, he became permanent fixture at the South Carolina State House, successfully fighting anti-LGBT legislation and supporting pro equality bills that would protect LGBT South Carolinians in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.
“My goal has always been that, at some point in my lifetime, marriage equality would be the law of the land and would not be an issue any longer, and that everyone would be treated equally under the law. Last year, I witnessed the constitutional right of all same sex couples in South Carolina with the right to marry the person they love. And as we continue to march down this long hard road for equality, we pause to celebrate our recent victory; however, the movement is far from over. In South Carolina, you can still be fired because of who you are (or love), can be turned away because a business owner doesn’t agree with how you identity and you can be refused housing. Our LGBT teenagers are still bullied in our schools, with some of the highest rates of any state in the Union. And transgender South Carolinians are still discriminated against and deserve the right to live as they choose. For those who continue to stand against these civil rights, they look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black.”
For over 20 years, he has been an innovative thinker and leader in business technology, having led the design and implementation of the TLC program for USAirways (now American Airlines). He first became an LGBT activist in the 1990’s, serving with The Names Project (AIDS Memorial Quilt) and in October, 1996, was part of the organization when the entire quilt was displayed on the National Mall in Washington. While living in Charlotte, NC he served as board chair of the former Metrolina AIDS Project, a local AIDS service organization in the greater Charlotte-metro area which once served over 1400 people infected with AIDS.
Jeff lives in Charleston with his partner Thomas Lewis, M.D. and their dogs Sadie, Roxy and Patsy.