Press

Kerry Lobel resigns from MMOW

Date: 
April 26, 1999

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

Kerry Lobel resigned from the Board of Directors of the Millennium March on Washington at the Board meeting which began on Sunday, April 25, 1999. The resignation is effective immediately. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Millennium March on Washington since June, 1998.

The following is the text of her resignation letter given to the Board of Directors of the Millennium March on Washington.

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April 25, 1999

Dear Colleagues,

It is with great regret that I resign as a member of the Board of Directors of the Millennium March on Washington, effective immediately.

The reasons for my resignation stem from three basic issues, which have continued to grow over time. First, I have significant political disagreements with the March call and planning, which have not been addressed. Secondly, I have grown increasingly skeptical of the value of this event for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) movement at this time. And finally, I cannot endorse certain decisions made by the Board. Although I have great trust and affection for each of you individually, it does not assuage my concerns and questions. I now believe I will be most helpful to the community from outside the Board.

Since the initial call for the March, grassroots activists have consistently challenged us as national leaders. Their concerns address the credibility and legitimacy of the March and they have demanded an opening of the March process for greater discussion. The questions have been on whether to march, what agenda to march for, and how best to use the tremendous platform and visibility that such marches provide.

Despite my political disagreements with the call and process, I agreed to serve on the March Board, believing my participation could change the course of the process. I also felt that as a representative of the oldest national political organization, and one of the few explicitly progressive national GLBT groups, my voice was needed in the March planning process. I stated at the time that I would remain on the Board as long as my presence represented the best interests of Task Force members, our constituents, and the movement as a whole.

Since I joined the Board, my participation has been challenged by members and activists with whom we have deep and longstanding relationships. Individuals from all perspectives have intensively engaged me, the Task Force staff, and our Board. I took their concerns to heart and carried them in my work on the March Board. During my tenure, I voted in the minority on key resolutions on personnel issues, the naming of the March, and the broadening of the planning effort to allow more people a seat at the table. I helped lead the successful effort to ensure that funds raised by the March would go to statewide organizations, people of color organizations and other constituents underrepresented in our movement. However, the Board has largely ignored the fundamental issues that lead me into become involved: why we should march, the agenda, and the involvement of the entire GLBT community. I cannot serve on a Board that will not open itself to greater input and scrutiny from the communities we claim to represent.

The second reason for my resignation is that I continue to doubt the value of this March at this time. I honor the value of our previous national Marches and acknowledge them as having been political turning points in the lives of many current leaders and activists. However, the effectiveness of such an enormous commitment of time and resources at a moment when more and more energy is demanded of the GLBT movement at the state and local level is questionable. Nothing so dramatically reinforced this as the success of Equality Begins at Home.

Held one month ago and sponsored by the Federation of LGBT Statewide Political Organizations and the Task Force, EBAH was supported by national and local groups, including the March Board. It demonstrated the incredible power of investing in state and local movement building. It also exemplified the real possibilities for political advancement of GLBT equality in every state. More favorable bills were introduced in state legislatures, more allies were reached and involved, more media coverage was generated in every state on GLBT issues than had ever been achieved at the state level. Because of its overwhelming success, the campaign is likely to be repeated in years to come, perhaps even annually.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has committed the vast majority of its resources to deepening and growing political power in every state. The time I have spent on the March Board has taken away from my important work at the state and local level. I need to concentrate my energies on NGLTF's efforts to build this state-by-state movement and on advocating for our grassroots constituents at the national level. This is the heart and soul of our work and it requires us to have the courage of our convictions.

Finally as a Board member, I have had personal financial responsibility and liability for the non-profit corporation producing the March. I am concerned that the March is not moving forward in a strategic manner. I am also concerned that neither the Board members nor our GLBT community have full access to information about March management and finances. I can no longer accept the personal risk my participation on the Board requires. I hope that my colleagues, many of whom are working very hard and responsibly, will push for information and accountability in the planning process.

In closing, I want to assure you that the Task Force will be visible at the Millennium March on Washington to encourage gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people from around the country to continue their work through state and local organizing. They will come to Washington to experience the power of gathering in their nation's capital, to feel strength in numbers, and to create a show of force for the GLBT community. We will be persistent in our efforts to ensure that the energy and momentum of the March carries to local communities. The financial commitments made by the March Board to organizations dedicated to statewide organizing and people of color organizing could be the finest legacy the March will leave to our movement.

If significant changes are made in the March planning and organizing, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will gladly consider rejoining the planning efforts for the Millennium March on Washington. In the meantime, we will advocate for the inclusion of our entire community in the March process and for the linking of our agenda to those of other movements for social justice. We hope these issues will be reflected in the March planning and agenda.

Sincerely,

Kerry Lobel
Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

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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.