National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Weekly Update
March 4, 2008

In the News:

Action Fund and Equality Maryland team up against efforts
      to nix gender identity protections
Equality for All campaign launches
Op-Ed: McCain should reject right-wing reverend’s endorsement
In the states: West Virginia, Oregon, Mississippi, Massachusetts
Winter Party a huge success
D.C. Leadership Awards kick-off event on March 11


Action Fund and Equality Maryland team up against efforts to nix gender identity protections

The Task Force Action Fund is working with Equality Maryland to review more than 30,000 signatures that were gathered to challenge a law banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The Montgomery County (Md.) Council unanimously passed the law last fall, but opponents recently submitted signatures to county officials seeking to place a measure on the November ballot aimed at abolishing the law.

We are working with Equality Maryland to review each and every one of those signatures, and we’re finding many invalid signatures. Our office in Washington, D.C., (pictured) has been transformed into a campaign headquarters of sorts, with dozens of volunteers there every day and every night, going through every signature, one by one. If you’re in the D.C. area and can help with the signature review, we need your assistance! Equality Maryland has a field organizer working out of the Task Force office this month who is managing volunteers. Contact her at

[ Visit the Equality Maryland Web site for more details ]


Equality for All campaign launches

The Task Force Action Fund has joined forces with Equality for All to launch a California campaign to stop a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage from qualifying for the November ballot. Right-wing forces have hired hundreds of paid signature gatherers asking California voters to sign the initiative; if they succeed in gathering the roughly 700,000 signatures needed to qualify, it would appear on the ballot in the November presidential election. A majority vote in favor of the initiative would change the state Constitution to permanently ban same-sex couples from marrying.

Equality for All has spearheaded an intensive campaign asking fair-minded voters not to sign the initiative. The campaign is supported by a broad coalition of national, state and local organizations, including the Task Force Action Fund, which donated $50,000 to help fuel the effort. The Task Force Action Fund has deployed three more field organizers to join the four who have been leading the field campaign for many months. This past weekend marked the campaign’s successful kickoff, where dozens of volunteers were stationed at prime signature-gathering sites across the state asking members of the public not to sign the petition. Learn more and get involved at


Op-Ed: McCain should reject right-wing reverend’s endorsement

Last week, Republican presidential candidate John McCain said he was proud to receive the endorsement of the Rev. John Hagee, whose outrageous remarks include blaming LGBT people for Hurricane Katrina.

“Will this be another example of Republican candidates for office embracing some of the most dangerous hate-mongers in America in an effort to pump up their extreme right-wing base, and the media basically letting them get away with it? John McCain owes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans a clear explanation of why he’s proud to stand with extremists who spout divisive, hateful rhetoric.”
— Dave Noble, Director, Public Policy & Government Affairs

[ Read the full commentary ]


In the states: West Virginia, Oregon, Mississippi, Massachusetts

West Virginia: The Task Force Action Fund this week sent out an action alert to West Virginians, urging them to ask their delegates in the state House to support Senate Bill 60, which would add sexual orientation to the state’s nondiscrimination policy. The Senate unanimously passed the measure last week.

Oregon: Opponents of Oregon’s new domestic partnership law are continuing their efforts to undo it. Initiatives seeking to repeal the law were filed last Friday and yesterday. Basic Rights Oregon is closely monitoring the situation. Learn more at

Mississippi: The Task Force Action Fund this week sent an action alert to Mississippians, urging them to ask their state representatives to reject Senate Bill 2766, which would prohibit unmarried, cohabitating couples from adopting children in Mississippi. The House Judiciary Committee may act on the bill this week.

Massachusetts: Supporters of transgender rights are calling upon state lawmakers to support House Bill 1722, which would expand the existing nondiscrimination statutes to include protection from discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Learn more at


Winter Party a huge success

The Winter Party Festival — now consisting of nearly two dozen events — ended Sunday with 6,000 people attending the 15th annual Beach Party in Miami Beach — a new record. This year’s line-up included new events for women, a dinner dance for the transgender community, an art exhibit, a gathering for youth, another for people of faith, and a family picnic. Nearly 400 volunteers — led by festival co-chairs JC Curry and Lisa Mercado — helped make it all possible.

During the weeklong festival, our field organizers identified nearly 3,000 people interested in helping defeat the anti-marriage constitutional amendment that will be on November’s ballot and staff from our Movement Building department pushed an aggressive and positive safer-sex message. Many, many thanks to our development staff for their super-human efforts to keep everything on track and thanks to all our sponsors.

The Task Force will donate two-thirds of the festival’s proceeds to support LGBT organizations in Miami-Dade, a tangible demonstration of our commitment to building the grassroots strength of our movement. We’ll be posting pictures from the festival over the next few days at so be sure to check back. You can also read coverage and view great photos from the Miami Herald here:

Winter Party is fun

Slide show: Winter Party 2008

Slide show: Under One Sun pool party

Slide show: Aussie Bum runway fashion show

Slide show: Winter Party Festival patrons event at the Wolfsonian

Photo by Dennis Dean images.


D.C. Leadership Awards kick-off event on March 11

Join us on Tuesday, March 11, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW in Washington, D.C., to learn how you can be part of the May 3 D.C. Leadership Awards, honoring AARP and its Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and to bid a fond farewell to outgoing Task Force executive director, Matt Foreman. RSVP to Janice Thom, director of special events, at or 646.358.1467.


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