‘LOVE AND MARRIAGE: BUSH STYLE’ - A New York City Community Forum Co-Organized by the Task Force

April 27, 2004

A Community Forum Exploring the Economic Sanctity of Marriage

Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications

Thursday, April 29, 6:30pm-9pm

The event is free to the public and will be held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, at 208 West 13th Street in New York City.


"Love & Marriage: Bush Style," a community forum exploring the economic ramifications of the presidents' initiatives and debating the effectiveness of the marriage model as it currently stands.

CENTRAL QUESTIONS: What role government should have when it comes to defining marriage, and whether unique financial and legal benefits should only be conferred upon those who sign a marriage license.


Michael Adams, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
Rod Colvin, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Lisa Duggan, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at New York University
Glenn Magpantay, Gay Asian and Pacific Islanders of New York
Ingrid Rivera, Queers for Economic Justice
Dean Spade, Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Alan Van Capelle, Empire State Pride Agenda
Kay Whitlock, American Friends Service Committee

ORGANIZED BY: Empire State Pride Agenda, Lesbian, Gay Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Nation Magazine, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Queers for Economic Justice


At a period in history when our nation is suffering through economic depression, a resurgence of HIV infection, faltering educational systems and a war, which many have termed a weapon of mass distraction, President Bush, has chosen to direct his energies towards deciding who should or should not be getting married.

In January 2004, as part of his welfare reform plan, the president announced a proposal to strengthen the bonds of traditional marriage by diverting $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars to fund his "Healthy Marriage Initiative." This decision was based, in part, on the proposals of Wade F. Horn, assistant secretary of health and human services for children and families, who said "children raised by their own parents in healthy, stable married families enjoy better physical and mental health and are less likely to be poor." One month later, fearing so-called "activist judges" and social progress, the president called on Congress to begin the process for amending the Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Spearheaded by the president, the federal government - at the exact same time that gay couples are seeking equal recognition under the law - is redirecting much-needed welfare funds to coerce the American poor into utilizing his marriage promotion programs in exchange for government benefits.

What does welfare reform have to do with gay marriage? Is our government using marriage as form of social control, when it tells poor people that they must marry, and LGBT people that they cannot? And should married couples (gay or straight) have access to financial benefits that are not available to single people? Has marriage as we know it, originally conceived to designate the ownership of women and property, become outdated?

"I do not want to convey the message that marriage is what all queer people aspire to, or that by supporting the LGBT right to marry, a message is being sent out that there is equality for all of America's families," says Kay Whitlock of the American Friends Service Committee. "It is critical that the LGBT movement work for equal civil marriage rights in ways that do not further reinforce the idea that if a couple is married, they are more worthy of rights and recognition than those non-married couples in intimate relationships."

As the gay and mainstream press presents a with-us-or-against-us view of the debate, what recourse is there for LGBT people who don't think of the right to marry as their ultimate goal? Is there room within our movement for differing opinions on marriage and the economic benefits that are attached, and how can one look critically at the issue of gay-marriage without being perceived as aligning with the President and other anti-gay forces? Can the fight for same-sex couples to marry be a step towards fixing the economic disparity between married and single people, or does it merely perpetuate the problem?

A panel of community activists, with varying perspectives, will consider and debate questions such as these.

Co-Sponsored by:

Bronx Lesbian and Gay Health Resource Consortium, The Coalition for the Homeless The Empire State Pride Agenda, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Legal Aid Society, The LGBT Community Center, The Nation magazine, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Queers for Economic Justice, Senior Action in a Gay Environment, The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the Welfare Rights Initiative.


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.