WASHINGTON -- The weekend of Sept. 17-20 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting ever for advocates of lesbian and gay equal rights as the Human Rights Campaign presents OutVote '98, its second national political convention, and the Second Annual HRC National Dinner.
OutVote '98 is expected to draw 1,000 lesbian and gay activists to Washington for the most cutting-edge political training available. The two-day convention culminates with the Second Annual National Dinner Sept. 19. Among the dinner speakers will be the world-renowned poet Dr. Maya Angelou. HRC will also present its first National Family Civil Rights Award to rocker Melissa Etheridge, her partner, actress/model Julie Cypher and their daughter.
"These two events are extraordinarily important for the lesbian and gay political community because of the caliber of trainers and speakers participating in both," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. "Putting them together in the same weekend was a logical combination."
OutVote '98 will offer the most cutting-edge political training for HRC members and allies. More than 20 workshops will be divided into four tracks: candidate/electoral grassroots activism workplace issues youth/campus issues
People who complete three sessions in a track will receive a certificate of completion from HRC.
"If people wish to concentrate on a particular area, the certificate recognizes that they've obtained the entire skills set," says Kim Mills, HRC's education director and OutVote program chair. "But there will be plenty of variety for everyone and attendees are free to pick and choose from a giant menu of options."
The candidate/electoral track will consist of workshops that train people in the fundamentals of working in campaigns, from message creation to fund raising to getting out the vote, and workshops for people who plan to run for office themselves. People concentrating in this track can round out their experience with one or more of the "universal electives" such as public presentations and speech making; how, when and why to talk to the media; framing the issues; and an update on legal issues/legislation.
The workplace track will zero in on the skills and information people need to go back to their employer and make the best possible cases for a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation and/or domestic partner benefits. The activist track will offer workshops on working in coalitions; mobilizing communities of faith; lobbying; state and federal issues; and much more. And the youth track will help participants learn more about organizing on campus and in the community; on planning and executing successful National Coming Out Day events; and on the role of young activists in political campaigns.
"OutVote `98 will take place the same weekend as the Christian Coalition's Road to Victory conference which gives us the opportunity to contrast our messages with the extremist messages of the Christian Coalition," said HRC communications director and senior strategist David M. Smith.
The weekend will begin early for dedicated activists, who are invited to Washington on Thursday, Sept. 17, to lobby their senators and members of Congress. "We encourage everyone who can spare the time to come to Washington that day and visit their elected representatives," says Winnie Stachelberg, HRC's political director. "Get in touch with us and we'll help you coordinate these visits and provide whatever background materials you might need to talk to your congress people about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, hate crimes, lesbian health, HIV and AIDS or other subjects."
The Second Annual National Dinner promises to be as exciting as the first. The black-tie gala will feature poet Dr. Maya Angelou as well as national political leaders. HRC has developed a special pricing schedule for people who register early for OutVote and for those who wish to purchase combination tickets to OutVote and the National Dinner. For registration and pricing information, call Box Office Tickets at 1-800-494-8497.
Early Registration (Before August, 1), $105 Registration (After August, 1), $135 Onsite Registration, $150 OutVote `98 National Dinner Package (Until August, 1), $299
Travel-On is HRC's official travel agency for the weekend. We urge you to make your airline through them at 800/333-1225 or 301/495-5990, account #410. And for the latest updates on OutVote '98 and the Second Annual National Dinner, visit the HRC web site at http://www.hrc.org.
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest national lesbian and gay political organization, with members throughout the country, effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support, and educates the public to ensure that lesbian and gay Americans can be open, honest, and safe at home, at work, and in the community.