Task Force mourns death of Bob Hattoy, leader and activist

March 06, 2007

Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications


“Mr. President, your family has AIDS. And we are dying, and you are doing nothing about it. Listen, I don't want to die.  But I don't want to live in an America where the President sees me as the enemy.” 
Bob Hattoy, speaking to the Democratic National Convention, New York City, July 13, 1992

“We’ve lost a great leader, a tireless advocate, and a man whose personal ambitions were never more important than the social justice of which he dreamed.”
Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force 

WASHINGTON, March 6 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the death of Bob Hattoy, an outspoken and courageous activist and leader on behalf of HIV/AIDS and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. He died March 3 in Sacramento, Calif. Hattoy, a former Clinton staffer, began his political career in the late 1970s and spent the last three decades pushing for social change. His most notable work included lobbying for environmental issues in conjunction with the Sierra Club and advocating for HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues during and after his tenure as a White House staff member in the Clinton administration.

At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, Hattoy candidly addressed the AIDS crisis in the U.S. It was the first time an openly gay man with AIDS had spoken at a national political convention in prime time. During the Clinton administration, Hattoy served as a White House personnel staffer, Interior Department liaison and chair of the HIV/AIDS Advisory Council. He approached his political career from a very personal perspective and was fearless about fighting for HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues in a homophobic, AIDS phobic world.

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“Bob Hattoy’s prodigious voice fell silent this week. For 15 years, Bob spoke for people with AIDS and for LGBT people to political decision makers at all levels, telling them over and over again that our government’s AIDS policies consigned him and millions of others to an almost certain death from a preventable disease. Bob, like many activists of his generation, cut his political teeth in the anti-war movement that brought the immoral war in Vietnam to its grinding halt. But even while Bob was in the streets demonstrating against the war in Vietnam, he was also knocking on doors for political candidates he supported. Bob represents the best of any political movement: the capacity to act as an outside agitator and an effective inside player. He punctuated his years in the Clinton administration with pithy commentary on the shortcomings of Clintonian policies, even while he advocated with colleagues to go farther faster. We’ve lost a great leader, a tireless advocate, and a man whose personal ambitions were never more important than the social justice of which he dreamed.”


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.