Press

$500,000 Awarded by Task Force to Gay Advocacy Groups Across the Country to Build Public Support for Equal Rights

Date: 
October 27, 2003

Largest Grants Ever Awarded By a Gay Advocacy Organization

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation today awarded Community Impact Fund grants totaling $500,000 to ten organizations across the nation as part of a continuing effort to build the grassroots strength of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement. The grants will be used to significantly expand each organization's volunteer base and to use those volunteers to identify at least 15,000 pro-gay voters over a two year period. Today's announcement represents the largest amount ever distributed by a national gay organization to state and local organizations.

"We know that the only way to beat the anti-gay religious and political right is, frankly, by copying what they've been doing for years - building a base of support by going door-to-door, talking to people, and identifying neighbors we know will stand with us," said Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman. "This work isn't glamorous - it's incredibly hard and takes a lot of courage - but it works. We know that the vast majority of Americans support equal rights for gay people when someone has a direct and honest conversation with them."

Foreman noted that over the last two years, 10 out of 12 of the anti-gay referenda had been defeated because local gay communities, working with the Task Force, had identified and turned out a strong base of public support through painstaking face-to-face conversations with people. (Prior to 2001, the gay community had been losing 3 out of 4 of these fights.) Last fall, for example, this kind of work identified 74,000 pro-gay supporters and provided the margin of victory in saving Miami-Dade's gay rights law from being repealed by ballot initiative.

One of the Task Force grants will go to the Milwaukee Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual and Transgender Community Center.

"The Task Force Community Impact Fund grant will help the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center dramatically expand its Equality Knocks door-to-door campaign to find allies of equality," said Center Executive Director Neil Albrecht. "Non-gay allies are the key to persuading Wisconsin legislators that all couples, gay and straight, deserve the protection of the law. Thanks to the Task Force, we'll be able to demonstrate to lawmakers that thousands support equal rights for same-sex couples."

Task Force Community Impact Fund grantees are: Empire State Pride Agenda (NY); Equality California; Fairness Campaign, (Louisville, KY); Kentucky Fairness Alliance, Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center (CA); Love Makes a Family (CT); Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance; Milwaukee LGBT Community Center (WI); and SAVE Dade Foundation (FL).

While the amount being distributed is significant, the Task Force said it was under no illusion about competing with the enormous resources available to those opposed to equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"We know that our community's resources and capacities are dwarfed by those of our opponents," said Dave Fleischer, Task Force Director of Organizing & Training. "We also know, however, that because most Americans choose basic fairness over intolerance every time, relatively modest investments in the grassroots pays huge dividends."

(For more information on the wealth of some of the organizations working against equal rights, see the Task Force Policy Institute report, "'Marriage Protection Week' Sponsors: Are They Really Interested in 'Building Strong and Healthy Marriages?'" available for pdf download at http://www.ngltf.org/library.)

The Community Impact Fund is part of a larger effort by the Task Force to build grassroots strength and skills. In the past year alone, for example, the Task Force has devoted thousands of staff and volunteer hours to assist communities across the country in defeating anti-LGBT legislation or advancing pro-LGBT measures, including work in Miami, FL; Tacoma, WA; Ypsilanti, MI; Westbrook, ME; Covington, KY; Topeka, KS; Cincinnati and Cleveland Heights, OH. Over the last year, the Task force also conducted intensive trainings for hundreds of activists in California, Oregon, New Mexico and the Ohio Valley.

For more information on Task Force Community Impact Fund grantees, please contact them directly at:

Empire State Pride Agenda: Joe Tarver at 212-627-0305 http://www.espany.org/
Equality California: Geoff Kors at 415-581-0005 x2 http://www.eqca.org/
Fairness Campaign: Carol Kraemer at 502-893-0788 http://www.fairness.org/
Kentucky Fairness Alliance: Andrea Hildebran at 502-897-1973 http://www.kentuckyfairness.org
Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas: Randall Ellis at 512-474-5475 http://www.lgrl.org
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center: Bonnie Osborn at 323-860-7364 http://www.laglc.org
Love Makes a Family: Anne Stanback at 860-674-8942 http://www.lmfct.org/
Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance: Betsy Smith at 207-761-3732 http://www.mlgpa.org
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center: Patrick Flaherty at 414-271-2656 http://www.mkelgbt.org
SAVE Dade Foundation: Heddy Pena at 305-751-7283 http://www.savedade.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.