WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, citing the predominance of family issues in the struggle for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) civil rights, launched "Celebrating Our Families: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Families Tour" on March 31.
Beginning March 26th in Toledo, Ohio and continuing throughout the year, NGLTF will organize with communities in at least fifteen cities (see schedule below) to implement strategies to combat a rising tide of right-wing attacks on GLBT families. The "Celebrating Our Families: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Families Tour" will be conducted in partnership with state and local groups who will co-host town forums.
Task Force executive director Kerry Lobel further states the importance of the tour:
"Anticipating the forthcoming Hawaii marriage ruling, we must be prepared. Therefore, in a pro-active manner, we will continue our quest for equality -- on all fronts. More than ever before, we will focus on the areas of parenting, custody, adoption and foster care, domestic partnership, and schools. We will continue to work for the day when our families will be afforded the same rights and sense of security which our friends and neighbors enjoy."
According to the Task Force, to date in 1998 attacks against GLBT families in state legislatures across the country are abundant.
NGLTF has tracked over 40 gay or HIV/AIDS-related state legislative measures in 1998 that it considers to be hostile. Of these bills, well over half (66%) relate to family issues. In at least 20 states (AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, KY, MD, MI, NE, NJ, NM, OK, TN, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI), anti-family measures, including bans on marriage, adoption, and domestic partnership, have been introduced this year.
In addition, the Kansas Republican Party recently adopted a platform attacking GLBT families. While in Oregon, a broad-sweeping, statewide anti-gay initiative that is deeply hostile to GLBT families is likely to be on the November ballot.
Lobel claimed, "The best interests of our children is a guiding principle for us all. In that regard, the well-being, safety, and happiness of all families and their children must transcend barriers of sexual orientation. All children deserve and need a fair shake at school, on the playground, and in the community -- irrespective of their family configuration."
Each town forum will feature Kerry Lobel or another representative from the Task Force, as well as local experts and organizers on GLBT family issues. To support local organizers, the Task Force will provide attendees with various organizing materials and fact sheets. Later this year, NGLTF will issue a new edition of Domestic Partnership Organizing Manual, one of its most requested publications.
The following is a preliminary schedule of "Celebrating Our Families: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Families Tour." More detailed updates will be released periodically throughout the tour. If your organization is interested in co-hosting a families town forum, please contact the Task Force.
CELEBRATING OUR FAMILIES NATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN TASK FORCE FAMILIES TOUR
Toledo, OH -- March 26
Boston, MA -- April 2
Huntington/Charleston, WV -- April 23
Providence, RI -- April 27
Philadelphia, PA -- April 29
Cincinnati, OH -- May 18
Columbus, OH -- May 19
Lexington, KY -- May 20
Evansville, IN -- May 21
New York, NY -- May 27
Indianapolis, IN -- June 11
Cleveland, OH -- T.B.A.
Wilmington, DE -- T.B.A.
Oakland, CA -- T.B.A.
Alameda, CA -- T.B.A.