Gay Movement Charts Its Future: 17th Annual Creating Change Conference Day Two
First and largest post-election lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) gathering draws more than 2,500 participants
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, November 13, 2004 — "Surrender? Never!" was the morning message from Matt Foreman in the keynote address yesterday at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force 17th annual Creating Change conference in St. Louis, MO.
"As we fight on, the first, overriding and most important goal of everything we do must be building our grassroots infrastructure over the long term," said Foreman. "Focusing on one election or one campaign after the next is short sighted, and it is never been the way rights have been won. The anti-amendment campaigns waged by many states over the last few months showed us the way to win long term gains even if we lose at the ballot box. So let me say it again, no campaign can be initiated or pursued unless it is specifically designed so that on other end, our community institutions will be stronger, not weaker and our statewide organizations energized, not demoralized."
Foreman stressed, "The number one priority of our movement must be to support, nurture, embrace and build our state and local grassroots infrastructure."
Foreman continued, "We need to be able to say that marriage equality a goal, but not the only goal of the LGBT community or our movement for liberation. We believe in and will fight for racial and economic justice. We believe in and will fight for a woman's right to choose and an end to a society that demands gender conformity. We believe in and will fight for new ways for people - gay and straight - to gain legal recognition and protections for their families.
[The full transcript of Foreman's speech can be found on the Task Force web site at: /press/releases/pr761_111204]
Foreman was joined by Clarence Patton, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, and Mara Keisling, founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, who echoed Foreman's message that the primary focus of the LGBT movement is building in the grassroots movement. "National organizations' primary function is to build state infrastructure. That's the only strategy that will allow us to win this war we must win," said Patton. "We all know that Bush has launched a galvanizing, divisive crusade against us. Anti-queer violence is on the rise."
Acknowledging broad concerns of the LGBT community Mara Keisling reminded the audience that we are not a single-issue movement. "We must remember that we are trying to change society. We live in a society where if they hate us, they hurt us. That's what we have to fix."
This year's conference follows the 2004 Presidential Election by eight days, as intensely watched an election as most of us will ever experience. LGBT equality leaders have gathered at the Creating Change conference to chart future resistance to four more years of the most anti-gay administration in history.
The conference runs Nov. 10-14, 2004. The Skills Academy for Leadership and Training began today and continues Saturday along with more than 120 workshop sessions and presentations, caucuses, film screenings, and the closing plenary session on Sunday Nov. 14.
Saturday plenary session speakers are Amber Hollibaugh of SAGE USA and Dr. Mary Frances Berry of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Two Creating Change awards, in addition to the Del Martin/Phyllis Lyon award presented on Thursday, will be awarded to musician Doria Roberts and St. Louis native Anthony Galloway.
For more information about the conference, visit the Task Force Creating Change Web site (http://www.creatingchange.org) or call the on-site Creating Change office at 314-588-7602.
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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