Press

Federation Announces ‘Equality Begins At Home’

Date: 
April 30, 1998

The Federation of Statewide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Political Organizations will sponsor a historic, coordinated week of actions focused on state government and statewide organizing. After many national and statewide discussions and after conducting a state-by-state assessment of its members, the Federation of Statewide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Political Organizations has decided it is time to focus energy on our home states. Under the theme "Equality Begins at Home," each state is called upon to plan an activity -- a march, rally, lobby day, press conference, or any other visibility campaign -- in their state capital during the week of March 21-27, 1999.

"Equality Begins at Home" will provide an opportunity to focus the national spotlight on the organizing challenges and legislative battles faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in state houses across the nation. The goal is to build statewide organizing capability across the nation and promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights in every state.

"The 'Equality Begins at Home' actions enable us to focus our energy on organizing and educating at the state level. Clearly, more and more battles are fought in the states. With anti-gay initiatives and referendums from Colorado to Maine, and the right wing organizing against our families; we must build a stronger grassroots movement in every state," explained Paula Ettelbrick, Co-Chair of the Federation and Legislative Director of New York's Empire State Pride Agenda.

"The 'Equality Begins at Home' actions give us a tremendous opportunity to strengthen our efforts in the states and create a more powerful network across our country," stated Dianne Hardy-Garcia, Co-Chair of the Federation and Executive Director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. "More states than ever before are facing anti-gay measures and/or are fighting for pro-gay civil rights protections. Nearly every state has faced a bill banning the recognition of same-sex marriages in the last two years. Over thirty states have groups actively working on pro-gay pieces of legislation."

The "Equality Begins at Home" actions will be organized by each of the existing 36 political organizations active in the Federation. Each state will design an action that best fits with their state and their political goals. Each state will develop a plan for integrating local groups and our allies into the action.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will help to organize the states that do not have existing statewide political groups. The "Equality Begins at Home" actions have been given office space in the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force office.

Kerry Lobel, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said "The political center of gravity is in the states. 'Equality Begins at Home' will allow organizers to focus their energy on building the movement in all fifty states. At this critical time in our movement, NGLTF is fully committed to the Federation and the state actions. We urge our colleague organizations to join with us in supporting this important political work."

Several national and local groups have joined in supporting the "Equality Begins at Home" actions by helping with resources, fundraising, publicity, organizing, promotion and expertise. There will also be a powerful effort to make sure that both the "Equality Begins at Home" actions and the Millennium March complement each other and share resources.

"The 'Equality Begins at Home' actions enjoys the full and enthusiastic support of the organizers of the MIllenium March," said Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign. "Its imperative that we focus our energies as a movement at both the state and federal level. These two events will complement each other as together we build the momentum to achieve equality in the next century."

"Each state capitol must hear voices of every color that make up the LGBT community. LLEGO will make sure that Latina/os are active in this event and looks forward to making a forceful manifestation of unity and inclusiveness. Our movement will be raised to a new level with the success of "Equality Begins at Home", said Martin Ornelas-Quintero, Executive Director of LLEGO, The National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organization.

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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.