Press

NGLTF, Massachusetts Groups To Offer Electoral Training

Date: 
April 16, 2001

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in partnership with the Massachusetts Freedom to Marry Foundation and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Political Alliance of Western Massachusetts, will offer a three-and-a-half day training for Massachusetts activists.

The training, scheduled for June 21-24, has two purposes: to prepare talented, dedicated GLBT leaders and allies to work effectively in campaigns, and to defeat potential anti-same sex marriage ballot initiatives that could appear on the Massachusetts ballot in 2002 and 2004.

Activists interested in the training should contact Sue Hyde, director of NGLTF's New England office, at 617-492-6393 or shyde@ngltf.org. The training will be led by Dave Fleischer, who directs NGLTF’s electoral training initiative.

During the past year, NGLTF has conducted extensive trainings in Oregon, Kentucky, Maine, New York, Dade County, Florida, and at the NGLTF Foundation's Creating Change conference, which last year was held in Atlanta. An additional training is scheduled in Michigan May 17-20.

"To win at the ballot box or at the legislative level, we need to strengthen our grassroots organizing skills," said NGLTF Executive Director Elizabeth Toledo. "If right-wing, anti-gay activists are successful in placing an anti-same sex ballot measure on the Massachusetts ballot, victory will depend on the extent to which we talk to friends, neighbors and co-workers about the reality of our lives. Our ultimate success in waging both legislative and electoral battles on the many issues that relate to GLBT families depends on changing people's minds, one mind at a time."

The training will take place two months after a potentially historic lawsuit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court. The lawsuit, filed by New England's Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), is on behalf of seven gay and lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses.

At the same time, Massachusetts activists currently are organizing against a bill pending in the Massachusetts Legislature that would both define marriage as between a man and a woman and would outlaw recognition of any other relationship as the legal equivalent of marriage. In addition, right-wing activists are threatening to pursue a similar initiative on the ballot.

"The recent filing of a lawsuit in Massachusetts on behalf of couples who have been denied the right to marry will dramatically increase the visibility of the marriage issue in Massachusetts," said Joshua Friedes of the Massachusetts Freedom to Marry Foundation. "This creates a great opportunity to educate the public and organize our supporters. We need this training to help produce a new set of leaders throughout Massachusetts with professional quality organizing skills."

"The next few years present an opportunity to organize in Massachusetts as never before," said Stacy Roth, president of the LGBT Political Alliance of Western Massachusetts. "This training is a first step toward creating the strongest possible leadership for our communities from the tip of the Cape to the western border of New York."

Roth added that the Western Political Alliance will sponsor two organizing meetings to help prepare for the training. The two meetings are scheduled for April 18 and May 16. For more information, call the Alliance at 413-586-8876 or info@wmassalliance.org.

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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 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.