Press

Task Force New England Power Summit Kicks Off In Boston

Date: 
March 26, 2004

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Convenes Power Summit on Eve of Massachusetts Constitutional Convention Vote on Gay Marriage

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

Grassroots Leaders From Across the Nation Gather in Boston

From March 25-28, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force staff will train more than 150 leaders from across the country on electoral, legislative and fundraising strategies specifically focused on the issue of marriage equality. Nearly half of the Power Summit participants are from Massachusetts.

The Task Force Power Summit opened Thursday evening with welcoming remarks from Task Force Deputy Executive Director Rea Carey, a keynote speech from Mary Bonauto of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and a "what to expect" briefing for participants from Task Force Organizing & Training staff.

Friday features day-long electoral and legislative training sessions, followed on Saturday morning by door-to-door canvassing in Boston, an afternoon debrief from Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman and an evening keynote speech from Congressman Barney Frank (MA-D). Sunday will feature a morning long fundraising training and an afternoon wrap up session.

Based on door-to-door voter identification work across the country, the Task Force predicts that the proportion of people supporting equal marriage rights during Saturday's canvassing will be significantly higher than recent polls would predict. "We know that when we have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with voters about our issues and our lives, 60% to 70% are with us," said Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director. "On the marriage issue, that is enough to stop anti-gay politicians from using the gay community as a wedge issue, and can change the result of a popular vote on the issue. Pro-marriage voters are being identified in the event an anti-marriage constitutional amendment is placed on the Massachusetts ballot in 2006."

Dave Fleischer, Task Force Director of Organizing & Training explains the importance of the New England Power Summit:

"Our community didn't pick a fight with anti-gay politicians. We want all Americans, Democrat, Republican and everyone in-between, to take a look at their gay neighbors and consider how much all of us have in common when it comes to our need to protect the people we love. Wedge-issue political ideologues, including President Bush, have made a serious miscalculation that will cost them votes in the upcoming elections. If the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community does its job and does this work on an appropriate scale, any politician who is relying on reflexive anti-gay sentiment to power their campaign will in fact be running a very high risk of losing because they have picked on the wrong group of people. We are going to fight back with a weapon that anti-gay bigots can't cope with: a direct, honest discussion with the American people."

Fleischer continued, "Anti-gay extremists and President Bush have picked a fight with us. And they're not interested in a fair fight. They want to hide behind vague language like 'sanctity' and code words that communicate to their base that ridiculing and demeaning gay people's aspirations to be full-fledged members of society is what they will get when they vote Republican. If anti-gay politicians want the votes of bigots, then the Task Force is committed to making sure that they learn that there is a cost attached to that choice. And the cost is the votes of fair-minded people, who as they learn more about what marriage means to lesbian and gay families and why it's important to us, will ultimately cast their vote against discrimination and for candidates for office who stand against discrimination."

"No matter what happens at the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention on March 29, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is committed to assisting our state and local allies in protecting equality in Massachusetts," Foreman said. "We will continue to train local leaders, produce groundbreaking research and knock on thousands of doors - and we have no doubt that equality and fairness will prevail in Massachusetts."

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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.