Press

NGLTF Holds Electoral Training as Record Number of States Face Ballot Initiatives

Date: 
July 10, 2000

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation this week will bring together activists from five battleground states for intensive, nonpartisan electoral training.

Activists will come from New York, California, Michigan, Nebraska and Vermont for a training to be held in New York City Thursday, July 13 though Sunday, July 16. The training comes as a record number of states and communities will face referendum measures this November that will affect the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

"This November, anti-gay ballot measures will be voted on in Oregon, Nebraska, Nevada and in as many as five communities throughout the state of Michigan," said Elizabeth Toledo, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "This is a direct and immediate threat to the safety and well-being of our communities. We will respond to these threats by training and mobilizing activists to build powerful local GLBT infrastructure that will keep us strong for the long haul."

The following referendum measures are expected to be voted on in November:

  • In Oregon, voters are expected to decide the fate of a proposal that would prevent public schools from "encouraging, promoting or sanctioning" homosexuality. Public schools would be allowed to teach material that disparages people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

  • In Michigan, four communities — Grand Rapids, Grand Ledge, Royal Oak and Traverse City — face potential referendum measures that would repeal or prohibit civil rights laws based on sexual orientation, while a fifth community, Kalamazoo, faces an effort to repeal domestic partner benefits for public employees.

  • In Nebraska, voters may decide the fate of an expansive measure that would prohibit any recognition of same-sex partnerships, ranging from same-sex marriage to to domestic partner benefits.

  • In Nevada, voters will vote on a measure that would ban same-sex marriages performed in other states. Nevada state law already bans same-sex marriages performed within the state.

  • Only one state — Maine — has a pro-GLBT ballot measure. This measure would expand the state's civil rights law to include sexual orientation.

"Working smart, we can win every one of these elections," said Dave Fleischer, a veteran NGLTF political organizer who will lead this week's training. "But success requires that we do the large-scale team-building and person-to-person campaigning that is almost a lost art in our community — and that is why training is so important."

Thus far this year, NGLTF has trained activists in Florida, Maine, New York and Oregon.

Fleischer is author of "Re-Thinking Elections: An Op-Ed Series on Critical Electoral Battles facing GLBT Communities." The five-part series may be downloaded free of charge by visiting http://www.ngltf.org/library/

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movementís premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.