Press

Today marks 30th anniversary of first-ever meeting between White House and gay leaders

Date: 
March 26, 2007

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

UPDATED MARCH 26

Please Join Us Monday, March 26, Noon (EST), 9 AM (PST)

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force invites you to join us for a rare opportunity to hear gay and lesbian leaders who attended the historic 1977 meeting with the Carter White House talk about that milestone and the progress made.

Join us for this national audio press conference:
Free call-in number:
866.409.1555  Code: 9097224

What:
Audio press conference: 30th anniversary of first-ever meeting between White House and gay leaders revisited. Gay advocates briefed White House staff on critical policy issues. What were the issues? How much progress has been made?

Who:
Midge Costanza, then-assistant to President Jimmy Carter
Matt Foreman,
Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Gay leaders who attended the 1977 meeting: Pokey Anderson, Charlotte Bunch, Frank Kameny, Elaine Noble, Bishop Troy Perry, George Raya, Charlotte Spitzer and Marilyn Haft, (then-White House staffer)

When:
Monday, March 26, Noon (EST), 9 a.m. (PST)

Where:
To participate: Call 866.409.1555
Code: 9097224
Call at 11:55 a.m. (EST) for noontime access

Why:
Thirty years ago, a fledgling advocacy organization called the National Gay Task Force (now the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) successfully initiated the first-ever meeting between the White House and more than a dozen gay and lesbian leaders. President Jimmy Carter’s assistant, Midge Costanza, met with Task Force co-chairs and board members as well as representatives of gay and lesbian organizations for a briefing on critical policy issues affecting this constituency. The meeting marked the first time openly gay and lesbian leaders were welcomed at the White House and the first official discussion of gay and lesbian rights in the White House.

The meeting was a critical milestone for gay and lesbian people in terms of access to the country’s most powerful leadership. The criticism of the Carter White House that followed was intense. Appearing on television’s Face the Nation, Carter press secretary Jody Powell responded, saying, “Costanza was only doing her job when she used the Office of Public Liaison to allow groups to present issues that they would like the administration to address.” Costanza too responded by consistently noting that “a basic tenet of American government is the right of citizens to petition that government.”

–30–

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.