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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
January 14, 2005

The gay agenda

22 national groups adopt a joint statement of purpose with eight goals

On the heels of setbacks from the 2004 national election, leaders of 22 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organizations have adopted a joint statement of unity and purpose. The move follows contentious public disagreements over strategy and reorganization within several of the groups.

The statement, released January 13, honors recent gains and calls all LGBT Americans to action in the fight for equality.

�The speed with which our movement is advancing on all fronts is absolutely historic,� it says. �We are born into families as diverse as our nation . . . We, literally, are everywhere.�

�Yet because that rich diversity often goes unseen, ignored or forgotten, we remain vulnerable to inaccurate stereotypes manufactured by a small but powerful group of anti-gay extremists . . . spending tens of millions of dollars to confuse, distort and subvert the public debate that continues to change hearts and minds about our right to equality.�

The document names eight priorities to focus on for the immediate future:

Equal employment opportunity, benefits and protections

Ending anti-LGBT violence

HIV and AIDS advocacy, better access to health care, and LGBT-inclusive sex education

Safe schools

Family laws that strengthen LGBT families

Ending the military�s gay ban

Exposing the radical right�s anti-LGBT agenda and fighting their attempts to enshrine anti-gay bigotry in state and federal constitutions

Marriage equality

The statement points to polls which show that 89% of Americans support equal employment opportunity for gays and lesbians, and nearly two thirds support the same for transgender people.

�Nearly four in five--up from 57 percent a decade ago--support openly gay military service members; and amid the enactment of anti-gay constitutional amendments in 11 states this past November, exit polls showed that 60 percent of voters favor legal recognition for same-sex couples.�

The message also notes the diversity among the organizations themselves, saying that each one has complementary strengths.

�The groups represented here are parts of a large civil rights orchestra. We play different instruments--lobbying, electoral politics, impact litigation, grassroots organizing, public education, media advocacy and more--and we are dedicated to playing them well. While our organizations vary in focus and strategies, we share a number of common priorities that will help shape and unite our work in the months and years to come.�

The 22 organizations signing the document include just about all of the major national LGBT groups. They are:

American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian and Gay Rights Project

Equality Federation

Freedom to Marry

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund

Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network

Human Rights Campaign

Lambda Legal

Log Cabin Republicans

Mautner Project

National Association of LGBT Community Centers

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

National Youth Advocacy Coalition

Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

Sigamos Adelante--National Latino/Hispanic LGBT Leadership

Stonewall Democrats

The process of formulating the statement began in late November, according to GLAAD director Joan Garry, who was in the discussions.

�The leaders of these organizations already talk more regularly and more consistently than many people think,� said Garry, �and it was felt that it was critical after the election for a strong statement.�

Garry said once the process started, drafts circulated among the leaders for about two weeks before they agreed on the final version.

�The timing of this has two pieces,� said Garry, �One is the post-election concern. We wanted to put a united stake in the ground. The other is that it is the new year and pre-inauguration. This is our own state of the union message,� primarily for the LGBT community and allies.

�We hope that other groups in the states and around the country will be inspired and motivated to use it as a launching pad to talk about their own activities this year,� said Garry.

The statement says the revolution in growing understanding and respect to this point has resulted from LGBT people �coming out, being out, and living the truth of their lives for others to see . . .� and �by an orchestra of organizations committed to the strategic advancement of our movement.�

�But at the end of the day, our movement must be more than a collective noun. It must also be an action. Even the most vibrant, vital community can, over time, settle into a status quo. A movement cannot.�

�And the success of our movement is measured not only in the hearts and minds we change, the allies we engage and the civil rights we secure, but in the strength of our collective commitment to the pursuit enduring social, political and legal change that moves us ever closer to true equality.�

The full statement is online on most of the groups� web sites.

 

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