National Policy Roundtable Discusses Current Political Climate, Sex in GLBT Politics

March 08, 2001

What is the current federal climate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) political movement?

This question kicked off a round of federal briefings for 35 executive directors and co-chairs of GLBT and HIV/AIDS national organizations at the eighth National Policy Roundtable last week. The Roundtable is convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. During the two-day meeting in Washington, D.C., participants discussed recent shifts in political power for the GLBT movement at the federal level. Leaders also participated in three different briefings — one examining the new administration of George W. Bush, another assessing the chances of further progress with federal agencies and a third looking at the future of GLBT politics in the current Congress. On the second day, participants discussed the role of sex in politics for the GLBT community.

"The political will of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement will be tested now more than ever," said Tim McFeeley, NGLTF Political Director and convener of the National Policy Roundtable. "Shifting power at the federal level demands that we build the GLBT movement's political infrastructure from the ground up to pressure and leverage legislative change at every level. This is the opportunity and the mandate for our communities in the next four years."

During a briefing on the White House, Vicki Shabo of the polling firm Lake Snell Perry and Associates discussed how presidents tend to use opinion polling, the demographics of George W. Bush's base vote and which voters George W. Bush is likely to court during the next four years for his election effort. Citing polling data, Shabo pointed out that the majority of Bush's base voters support sexual orientation employment non-discrimination laws and hate crimes laws that include GLBT people. Other participants in the White House briefing included David Boaz, Executive Vice President, Cato Institute, and Rich Tafel, Executive Director, Log Cabin Republicans. Participants and panelists discussed what policy priorities might be likely to move in the Bush Administration, its relationship to GLBT political organizations, and ways for GLBT advocates to approach the Administration.

During the second briefing, examining federal agencies, openly lesbian and gay appointees from the Clinton Administration discussed advances that were made in the last eight years and how to maintain them. Panelists included Len Hirsch, President of GLOBE; Marsha Martin, former Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health and Human Services; Thomas Hehir, professor at Harvard University School of Education and former Director of the Office of Special Education Programs at the Department of Education; Fred Hochberg, Deputy Administrator for the Small Business Administration; and R. Paul Richard, Senior Advisor at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

During the third briefing, lobbyists and political strategists discussed the state of GLBT rights in Congress. Discussion focused on the Bush tax cut, the power-sharing agreement in the Senate, and the likelihood of both pro and anti-GLBT related legislation making it to the floor of the House and Senate. Congressional briefing panelists included NGLTF's McFeeley; Nancy Buermeyer, Deputy Director for Legislation, Human Rights Campaign; David Medina, Legislative Representative, AFL-CIO; and Robert Raben, former Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, U. S. Department of Justice.

The Roundtable's second day focused on how sex issues often impact GLBT political efforts. A series of panels discussed the tensions many find dealing with sex and how sex issues play out in the media, strategic policy planning and in confronting political opposition. The panels were organized and funded by Judy Guerin, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and Jeffrey Montgomery, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Both Guerin and Montgomery are steering committee members of the roundtable.

Roundtable guests and presenters for the sex and politics discussions included Mary Francis Berry, Professor of History and Law, University of Pennsylvania and Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Eric Rofes, longtime activist and author; Robert Bray, Director, the Spin Project; Amber Hollibaugh, lesbian activist and author; Kevin Jennings, Executive Director, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; Craig Bowman, Executive Director, National Youth Advocacy Coalition; Rudolph Serra, attorney; and Melinda Chateauvert, Public Affairs Director, NCSF.

The National Policy Roundtable is convened by the NGLTF Policy Institute and is made up of the executive directors and other representatives of national GLBT and HIV/AIDS organizations. A description is available at Members and contact information are as follows: (*steering committee member for the National Policy Roundable)

ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project, Matt Coles, Project Director, 212-549-2627

Audre Lorde Project, Joo-Hyun Kang*, Executive Director, 718-596-0342

Children Of Lesbians & Gays Everywhere, Felicia Park-Rogers*, Executive Director, 415-861-5437

Dignity/USA, Bob Miailovich, 202-861-0017

Family Pride Coalition, Aimee Gelnaw, Board Co-Chair, 847-635-1843

Federation of Statewide LGBT Political Organizations, Nadine Smith, Co-Chair, 813-870-3735

FTM International, Díon Manley, President, 510-540-5395

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Joan Garry*, Executive Director, 212-629-3322

Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Maureen S. O'Leary, Executive Director, 415-255-4547

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Kevin Jennings, Executive Director, 212-727-0135

Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Brian Bond, Executive Director, 202-842-8679

Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc. (GEA), Jamison Green, Board Chair, 510-658-0474

Human Rights Campaign, Elizabeth Birch, Executive Director, 202-628-4160

ICTLEP - Transgender Law Conference, Sharon Stuart, Executive Director, 607-547-4118

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Surina Khan, Executive Director, 415-255-8680

It's Time America!, Melissa Dixon, National Political Director and Southern Region Director, 301-949-3822 box # 8

Lambda Legal Defense And Education Fund, Kevin M. Cathcart, Executive Director 212-809-8585

Log Cabin Republican Clubs, Rich Tafel, Executive Director, 202-347-5306

National Association of GLBT Community Centers, Richard Burns*, Executive Committee, 212-620-7310

National Association of GLBT Community Centers, Gwenn Baldwin, Executive Committee, 323-993-7400

National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum, Alvan Quamina, Executive Director, 510-588-5926

National Center For Lesbian Rights, Kate Kendell*, Executive Director, 415-392-6257

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, Judy Guerin*, 301-585-7820

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Jeffrey Montgomery*, Executive Director, 313-537-3323

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Richard Haymes, 212-714-1184

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Clarence Patton, 212-714-1184

National Consortium of LGBT Resources in Higher Education, Bob Schoenberg, Chair, 215-898-5044

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Elizabeth Toledo, Executive Director, 202-332-6483

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Tim McFeeley, Political Director and National Policy Roundtable Convenor, 202-332-6483

National Latina/o LGBT Organization, Martin Ornelas-Quintero, Executive Director, 202-466-8240

National Minority AIDS Council, Paul Kawata, Executive Director, 202-483-6622

National Stonewall Democratic Federation, Michael Colby, Executive Director, 202-783-8670

National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, Yosenio V. Lewis*, 415-281-9445

National Youth Advocacy Coalition, Craig Bowman, Executive Director, 202-319-7596

Mautner Project for Lesbians with Cancer, Kathleen DeBold, Executive Director, 202-462-7929

Parents Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Kirsten Kingdon, Executive Director, 202-467-8180

Pride At Work, T Santora*, Co-Chair, 202-434-1285

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Dixon Osburn, Director, 202-328-3244

World Congress of GLB Jewish Organizations, Scott Gansl, President, 609-396-1972


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 movement’s 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.