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Local Politics—Gay & Lesbian Style—is Coming of Age

Equality Begins at Home Hires a National Coordinator

Mid-Year Gathering Attracts 36 State Delegates

Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday
From National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Reports

Representatives from thirty-six state organizations gathered recently in Denver, Colorado for the mid-year meeting of the Federation of State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Political Organizations.

The meeting marked a critical moment for the movement as state groups pushed forward with plans for Equality Begins at Home actions in states and territories during March 21-27, 1999. Participants also shared successful strategies for organizing.

States represented at the meeting were Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

"It's been exciting to see the heightened focus on statewide organizing that's developed since the Federation¹s inception two years ago," said Dianne Hardy-Garcia of the Lesbian / Gay Rights Lobby of Texas and Federation co-Chair. "We're thrilled by the continued growth of the Federation and by the progress groups have made with advancing pro-GLBT legislation at the state and local level."

A key development out of the Denver meeting was the creation of a framework for moving ahead with the planned series of state actions slated for March 1999. Paula Ettelbrick of the Empire State Pride Agenda was named Equality Begins at Home National Coordinator.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) has hired Ettelbrick to work with a newly-created Equality Begins at Home Steering Committee, comprised of six Federation members, to coordinate Equality Begins at Home events. Federation members also developed plans for their specific state actions. Events will feature a broad range of activities including lobby days, rallies and demonstrations on state capitals, and public education events highlighting key GLBT issues. lobel.gif - 13.54 K
Kerry Lobel

"The Equality Begins at Home events will be a watershed moment for our movement. Never before have state organizations come together to organize a coordinated series of actions to advance GLBT equal rights. I look forward to working with so many talented state organizers to help make these events successful," stated Ettelbrick, who resigned as co-chair of the Federation in order to take on this task.

"The future of our movement for equality increasingly lies at the state and local level," stated Roger Leishman of the Illinois ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project and newly-elected Federation co-chair. "The Equality Begins at Home events will be a powerful new tool for bolstering state and local organizations and for advancing the broad range of rights affecting our community. As co-chair, Paula has made an incredible contribution to the formation and growth of the Federation. We're excited to work with her in her critical new role as National Coordinator for Equality Begins at Home."

At the meeting participants also shared legislative strategies and discussed methods for strengthening GLBT state organizations. Activists reviewed recent successful campaigns to repeal state sodomy laws and to pass hate crime legislation, as well as their attempts to fight anti-gay adoption, anti-marriage measures, and efforts to roll back GLBT civil rights. Federation members also outlined strategies for effective multicultural and coalition organizing.

"As a founding co-chair of the Federation, I am grateful to the Task Force for its support of the Federation. I¹m excited to be joining NGLTF as Equality Begins at Home National Coordinator," stated Ettelbrick.

The need for the Federation grew out of meetings of statewide activists occurring at NGLTF's annual Creating Change Conference in 1996. The purpose of the Federation is to facilitate cooperation and communication among organizations whose primary mission is to seek legislative change that benefits GLBT persons; to establish a clearinghouse for exchanging information and ideas among these state groups; to assist existing and new groups in addressing their organizational development needs; and to provide a structure for better working relationships between statewide groups and national GLBT organizations. NGLTF serves as the Federation's coordinator to support the work and resources of the Federation.

"States are ground zero in the struggle for equality and justice, and it is essential that these state groups are supported if we are to ensure our ultimate success as a movement. NGLTF is honored to assist in the ongoing activities of the Federation," said NGLTF Executive Director Kerry Lobel.

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