Reproductive Freedom is a Gay Issue — Now, More than Ever
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Co-Sponsors 'March for Women's Lives'
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
Washington, D.C., April 23, 2004 - This Sunday (April 25) the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will join hundreds of thousands of Americans in Washington D.C. for the March for Women's Lives in support of reproductive health and reproductive freedom. The Task Force is the oldest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights and advocacy organization.
"We are proud to be a part of the 'March for Women's Lives' this Sunday. For nearly 30 years, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has considered reproductive freedom a 'gay' issue," said Matt Foreman, Task Force executive director. "Today, that reality is more evident than ever before, as is the necessity that we join together. Our right to have private, consensual sex - won in last summer's U.S. Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas decision - will be lost if Roe v. Wade falls under the right's persistent onslaught. Likewise, the enemies of reproductive freedom are the very same people we battle every day in trying to win equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Finally, the Bush Administration's war on gay America - including his support to amend the U.S. Constitution to deny equal marriage rights to our community - is inextricably tied to the administration's assault on reproductive freedom - from 'abstinence only' programs, to the multi-million dollar 'marriage promotion' plan, to his 'every child deserves a mother and a father' mantra."
Why We March
An Op-Ed from Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director
We - along with thousands of other lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people will be at March for Women's Lives this Sunday. Why? For the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, there are four overlapping reasons for our enthusiastic and unqualified participation.
First, the obvious: we march because like everyone else, LGBT people need, deserve, and demand the fundamental right to control our bodies without the interference of government. This is the bedrock upon which our movement exists. Our individual and family needs are inextricably linked with all other Americans - we love and have sex; women in our community get pregnant, need the assistance of fertility clinics to do so, or choose or need to end a pregnancy; both men and women in our community choose to - or choose not to - have children. This is not ideological rhetoric: according to the 2000 U.S. Census, 34% of female same-sex households and 22% of male same-sex households are raising children. (See the Task Force report, "2000 Census and Same-Sex Households: A User's Guide," available at http://www.thetaskforce.org/library and check out the U.S. Census 2003 report, "U.S. Census Bureau: Married-couple and unmarried-partner households: 2000 at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/censr-5.pdf.
Second, we march because the constitutional right of gay people to have private, consensual sex is inextricably linked to preserving Roe v. Wade. If Roe falls, so does the Supreme Court's recent Lawrence v. Texas, decision, which struck down consensual sodomy laws. The long line of Supreme Court rulings upholding and extending reproductive freedom - Griswold, Eisenstad, Roe, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey - all based on the concept of privacy and personal liberty - are the legal foundation upon which Lawrence is based. Plain and simple: without these decisions we would not have Lawrence; conversely, if Roe is overturned, there goes Lawrence.
Third, we march because the enemies of reproductive freedom are the same enemies of equal rights for LGBT people. We must stand together against them or we will lose. Every major organization or denomination seeking to limit reproductive freedom and overturn Roe seeks to deny LGBT people equal rights with equal vengeance. For decades, their two primary targets - and fundraising vehicles - have been choice and gay rights. Just as the forces of intolerance marshaled their resources to pass into law the so-called "late term abortion" ban, they are fixing their sights to amend the U.S. Constitution to write in discrimination against LGBT people.
Finally, we march because our own government's unprecedented assault on reproductive freedom is not only obviously linked to "gay marriage" but also hits our community particularly hard. For example, the Bush administration is lavishly funding unscientifically-based abstinence-only-until-marriage programs while pushing the anti-marriage constitutional amendment - in effect saying that LGBT people should never have sex. "Abstinence only" programs also negatively impact family planning and undermine HIV/AIDS prevention. The current administration has effectively imposed an anti-LGBT gag rule by denying funding to research proposals containing the words "gay," "lesbian," "transgender," or even "men who have sex with men" while enforcing the "gag-rule" which prevents the distribution of a myriad of reproductive and sexual health services around the world. Similarly, his multi-million dollar "marriage promotion" plan and "every child deserves a mother and a father" mantra are both homophobic and connected to a partisan right wing attack on reproductive freedom. Future Supreme Court nominees? The Supreme Court Justice the President "really respects" is Antonin Scalia, the court's most virulently anti-gay and anti-choice justice.
Is reproductive freedom a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issue? Of course - it always has been - and now, it is more clear than ever before.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
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.
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