Press

Western State Leaders Gather for Northwest GLBT Power Summit

Date: 
April 16, 2002

More than 100 leaders from six states will attend a three-day Power Summit Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 21, in Portland, Oregon. The Power Summit, organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and cosponsored by the Federation of Statewide LGBT Advocacy Organizations, will train activists in the areas of legislative organizing; fundraising; and building alliances across race, class, and gender lines.

The purpose of the Power Summit is to recruit, train, and activate leaders from across the Pacific Northwest and West who will work to build effective community support for laws and policies that promote equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people. The training includes three main components: effective fundraising through one on one asks; building a mass base of pro-GLBT voters to be mobilized to lobby and vote on our issues; and building relationships across race, class and gender lines to build a progressive, pro-GLBT social justice movement.

"The Power Summit provides state and local leaders with the practical, fundamental skills they need to effectively advance an agenda of full equality," said Lorri L. Jean, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "This is just one of the ways that NGLTF is working to build a strong and powerful movement across the country – the kind of movement that is necessary to win the rights we deserve."

"The far right has invested heavily in state politics for over a decade while state organizing has been the most neglected part of our movement. Our greatest opportunities and most dangerous challenges are in state courts and legislatures," said Nadine Smith, co-chair of the Federation. "The Federation is proud to partner with NGLTF to train hard-working activists to strengthen and build state organizations."

Most of the more than 100 participants are from six states – Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Alaska and Idaho. After the Power Summit, they will take the skills they learned and put them to work on their own campaigns. Examples of their work include:

  • Oregon Power Summit participants will work closely with Basic Rights Oregon's Measure PAC to defeat a likely 2002 statewide anti-GLBT ballot measure spearheaded by the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA). If it qualifies, the ballot measure would ban any positive discussion around GLBT issues in public schools or community colleges, or the schools would risk losing public funding. Oregon has faced over 34 state and local anti-GLBT ballot measures since 1988. Basic Rights Oregon's Measure PAC has consistently defeated the state's past three anti-GLBT initiatives.

  • Washington Power Summit participants will work with the Pride Foundation to increase local GLBT groups fundraising capacity and with the Fairness Lobby to build political power for several key state and local legislative initiatives. Key projects include building a base of constituent lobbyists in targeted state legislative districts for a pro-GLBT civil rights bill and for a local equal rights ordinance in the city of Tacoma.

  • California Power Summit participants will work with racial justice groups in California to fight a racially divisive initiative that may appear on the November state ballot. Ward Connerly's American Civil Rights Coalition, which successfully spearheaded passage of anti-affirmative action ballot measures in California and Washington, is currently gathering the signatures necessary for qualifying his so-called "Racial Privacy Initiative." If passed, the measure would ban state and local governments from collecting any data pertaining to an individual's race, ethnicity, or national origin, which would make it nearly impossible to enforce anti-discrimination, hate crimes and other racial justice laws.

  • Nevada Power Summit participants will work with Equal Rights Nevada to help defeat Question 2, a ballot measure that would change the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Attendees will focus on developing a pro-GLBT fair-minded voter base committed to voting down bigotry at the ballot box. To change the state constitution, Nevada voters must consider a ballot measure twice; during the first vote in 2000, voters approved the measure 70 to 30 percent.

  • Alaska Power Summit participants will work with GLSEN and other GLBT groups in Fairbanks to help elect fair-minded candidates to local school board races this fall.

  • Idaho Power Summit participants will work to help strengthen Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors efforts to promote GLBT equality across the state.

This is the second regional GLBT Power Summit. It is made possible, in part, because of the financial support of the Arcus Foundation, the Needmor Foundation, and an anonymous donor. A host of other organizations supported NGLTF's Power Summit organizing efforts, including Basic Rights Oregon; Pride Foundation; Fairness Lobby; Equal Rights Nevada; Gill Foundation; Western States Center; Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; San Francisco LGBT Community Center; AIDS Project Los Angeles; Southern Nevada Association of Pride, Inc.; Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors; Fairbanks, Alaska GLSEN.

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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.