Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
by Jessica Carreras
Last Tuesday, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force underwent a significant change when Matt Foreman had his last day as the gay rights organization’s executive director. Foreman has served in the position since 2003. Deputy Executive Director Rea Carey, who will serve while the search for a new executive director continues, will temporarily replace him.
“It’s been an incredible honor and privilege to be with the Task Force over the last five years,” Foreman commented in an audio press conference. He will continue his work in gay rights advocacy working for the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Foundation. There, he will head up their Gay and Lesbian Program.
Now, the Task Force faces the considerable job of addressing where the organization is going in light of its change in leadership. Throughout its different program departments, Task Force leaders are in the midst of a year-and-a-half-long plan that will include national conferences, legislative battles, the release of new LGBT-related reports and, of course, a continued fight for an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Several large events for the Task Force are coming up within the next year. On May 3, they will hold their D.C. Leadership Awards Dinner, during which they will present an award to AARP for their work with the aging LGBT community. “AARP has been a tremendous partner in our ongoing efforts to increase the traditional aging community’s awareness of LGBT seniors and the unique needs that we as LGBT people have as we age,” said Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Dave Noble.
In September, the NGLTF will hold a conference in New Orleans called “Many Stories, One Voice.” There, the Institute for Welcoming Resources, which merged with the Task Force in 2006, will bring a network of 2,700 Christian congregations who are working to change church policies and opinions toward LGBT people. The five-day conference will include two days of community rebuilding in the areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and, according to Noble, three days of “training, connecting and equipping people of faith with the tools they need to continue this work (with LGBTs).”
The Task Force also plans to present three reports in the upcoming year, according to Dr. Jaimi Grant, director of the Policy Institute. The first, a report on transgender discrimination, will be released next spring. “We expect this report to be the largest survey of discrimination against trans people,” Grant said. “We’re going for both breadth and depth.”
The second piece will be a revision of “Outing Age,” a study on the aging LGBT community, while the third will deal with the federal government’s collection of data on the LGBT community. The last report, Grant said, looks to combat anti-LGBT views. “It certainly would provide a huge counter to right wing pictures of our community as white, elitist, privileged, living in the cities and not really connected to family life,” she added.
Some of the biggest efforts moving forward in the next year or so will be regarding policy changes. According to Dan Hawes, who heads up the organizing and training department at the Task Force, their number one priority is winning the freedom to marry in California. “As the largest state in the nation and as the key cultural and political trendsetter,” Hawes said, “we know that winning the freedom to marry in California could inject incredible momentum nationwide into boosting all sorts of related recognition policy fights at state and local level.”
Along with this, the Task Force and thousands of volunteers are working across the state to urge Californians to not support the amendment to label marriage as between one man and one woman.
Of course, with the upcoming elections, the Task Force is also working on educating candidates about ENDA in order to present it again to the House of Representatives.
Other political endeavors will center on continuing to fight for the inclusion of a transgender non-discrimination clause in local, state and federal governments.
“We are very excited about using all of our programs at the Task Force to move equality forward and move our work along together,” said Russell Roybal, who oversees the Creating Change Conference, which will be held in Denver next year. “This is a great new chapter in the history of the Task Force and we want to continue to move down that road.”