- July 18 - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today joined with local Massachusetts
activists to celebrate their joint success in defeating a right wing effort to
pass an anti-gay constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage in the
"The defeat of this anti-gay, anti-family amendment shows how national
organizations can effectively partner with local activists to stand up for full
equality for all gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender people," said Lorri
L. Jean, the Task Force's executive director. "No one, whether an agent of
the government or of the radical religious right, should be in the business of
punishing millions of same-sex partners for how they choose to organize their
own families. A government 'for the people, by the people, and of the people'
ought to serve everyone, and that means respecting and valuing our families equally."
Yesterday, a Constitutional Convention was held where a joint session of the
Massachusetts House and Senate voted 137-53 to adjourn immediately without taking
a vote on the controversial issue. The Constitutional Convention was called after
right wing groups collected the 130,000 signatures needed to initiate the process
of passing a constitutional amendment. To appear on the ballot in November 2004,
the ballot question needed to be approved by 50 of the 200 elected representatives
and senators in the Massachusetts legislature before the two-year legislative
session ends July 31, and again during the 2003-2004 session. If passed, the amendment
would have made same-sex marriages unconstitutional in Massachusetts and accord
marriage benefits only to unions between one man and one woman.
As an active member of MassEquality.org, a coalition of local, statewide and
some national organizations formed to defeat the amendment, The Task Force was
significantly involved from the outset of the campaign to defeat the question.
In addition to providing ongoing support and technical assistance, the Task Force:
-- Trained 30 state activists in critical campaign strategy and management.
Many of these 30 later took on leadership roles in the campaign.
-- By mobilizing its membership base in Massachusetts, generated thousands
of letters to Massachusetts state legislators, urging them to vote against bringing
the question to the voters.
-- Provided MassEquality.org with a cash contribution of $18,000, making it
one of the largest single donations to the campaign.
"From Day one The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has supported our
effort to defeat this homophobic and misguided amendment," said Joshua Friedes,
a board member of MassEquality.org and political director of EqualMarriage.org,
one of the coalition's member organizations. "They gave us the skills to
set up and run an effective campaign, they gave us funding to help the campaign
get off the ground, and they provided us with ongoing support and advice throughout
Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force works to eliminate
prejudice, violence and injustice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
people at the local, state and national level. As part of a broader social justice
movement for freedom, justice and equality, NGLTF is creating a world that respects
and celebrates the diversity of human expression and identity where all people
may fully participate in society.