Tag Archives: creating change

Equality movement is broad and diverse

For several weeks I’ve been doing a lot of traveling: Long Beach, Calif., Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. Each trip has been to attend a conference that has offered a unique and meaningful opportunity to learn and grow personally and organizationally. The most meaningful was Creating Change, hosted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in Atlanta.

Two parts of that conference really stood out for me. The first was an all-day session called the “Racial Justice Institute.” The session’s focus was to help individuals understand their privilege and appreciate the challenge that people of color face every day. We can certainly see those struggles in Milwaukee. Ours is one of the most segregated cities in America, and our organizations reflect that problem.

But I learned this is not unique to Milwaukee. Communities and organizations across the country are struggling with diversity. During the session, I remembered that every organization for which I’ve ever worked has tried to achieve diversity but has fallen short. By the end of the workshop, I had gained a better understanding of why that’s the case.

Organizations need to go beyond making a commitment on paper and change their cultures. It is only when there is true commitment to changing the organizational culture that true progress is made toward inclusivity. 

The other key moment from Creating Change came when Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, gave her State of the Movement address. While she eloquently touched on the marriage victories in Washington, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, those were not the focus of her speech. Instead Carey spoke about how the LGBT equality movement is more than a single-issue movement, and how we must make sure we do not define ourselves as a marriage-only movement. 

Of all of the minority groups working toward equality, the LGBT community is the most diverse. We are made up of people spanning all genders, races, religions, nationalities, etc. This means that all of the issues facing these individual groups also impact the LGBT community universally.

A large part of Carey’s speech focused on the immigrant community. To a standing ovation, she declared, “Immigration issues are LGBT issues.” 

I couldn’t agree more, and its time for the rest of the LGBT community to fully commit to justice for immigrants as well. Many members of our community identify themselves in terms of their heritage first and their sexual orientation second.

We are lucky to have a president who has demonstrated his commitment not only to the LGBT community, but also to the immigrant community with his comprehensive immigration reform proposal. An important part of the proposal is a provision that could bring an end to same-sex binational couples having to worry about deportation.

The equality movement is diverse and broad. We have a unique opportunity to use our commonalities to come together and create progressive change. Together we can face what is ahead and be better for the understanding we gain along the way.

Change-makers assembled for Atlanta conference

Activists from across the country are gathered in Atlanta for a premier event – Creating Change, the 25th National Conference on LGBT Equality.

More than 3,000 advocates for LGBT civil rights – including leaders from Wisconsin such as Jason Burns of Equality Wisconsin and Katie Belanger of Fair Wisconsin – are assembled at the Hilton in downtown Atlanta. The conference began on Jan. 23 and was to continue through Jan. 27 at the hotel, which was sold out weeks in advance.

On Jan. 25, the president addressed the conference in a video message.

The conference also includes daylong institutes exploring racial injustice, advancing transgender civil rights, encouraging activism and advocacy for the aging LGBT population, promoting school safety, funding the movement and strengthening alliances.

Other Creating Change traditions include training programs, such as a session on improving social media skills; lots of entertainment, including drag shows and dances; workshops, at least 350 according to the agenda; and speeches, specifically a State of the Movement address by Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which organizes the conference.

Carey says the movement has “turned a corner and we’re not going back.”

And the success is in part due to the work that has taken place at Creating Change, she says. “Twenty-five years of mobilizing, strategizing and yes, celebrating our right to love and be ourselves.”

The first Creating Change took place in 1988 in Washington, D.C.

Milwaukee hosted the conference in November 2001, with then-U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin delivering a keynote address that was followed by a speak-out on “how can our movement be more powerful.”

About 2,500 people attended the conference in Milwaukee, which that year was ranked the No. 1 city for lesbians to reside in by Girlfriends magazine.

On the Web…

Parts of the Creating Change are being streamed on the Web: 


NAACP head gives keynote at LGBT conference

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said this week that the civil rights group supports legislation in Maryland to extend rights to transgender residents.

Jealous spoke at a national conference on rights for the LGBT community, the 24th national conference on LGBT equality.

“This striving for inclusion is not new,” Jealous told a crowded convention room at the Baltimore Hilton on Jan. 26.

Under Jealous, the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People launched an equality task force for the LGBT community. The Maryland measure would extend rights relating to employment and housing to transgender residents.

Last year, legislation that would have protected transgender people from housing and employment discrimination passed the House of Delegates, but the bill failed to pass the Senate.

About a week after the legislative session adjourned in April, an attack on 22-year-old transgender woman at a McDonald’s restaurant in Rosedale, Md., highlighted the issue again.

First Lady Katie O’Malley, who also attended the conference, told a crowd outside the convention room where Jealous spoke that “cowards” prevented same-sex marriage legislation from passing in Maryland last year. The measure cleared the Senate but stalled in the House of Delegates.

“We didn’t expect the things that happened to the House of Delegates to occur, but sadly they did, and there were some cowards that prevented it from passing,” she said.

Still, she told the crowd she and her husband, Gov. Martin O’Malley, are hoping the votes will be there this year.

The governor has made same-sex marriage legislation a priority this session.

Katie O’Malley, who is a judge in Baltimore District Court, also told the crowd that religion should not play a role in determining state laws relating to civil rights.

“We’re all very diverse and that’s what makes us so strong, but religion should never play a part in what the laws of our state are, and that’s what we’re trying to convey to religious leaders who are opponents of the bill,” she said.

Source: AP

Md. first lady talks about gay marriage

Maryland First Lady Katie O’Malley isn’t mincing any words when it comes to describing why she thinks gay marriage legislation failed last year.

The first lady, speaking at the 24th annual Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality, said “there were some cowards that prevented it from passing.’’

A bill to allow same-sex marriage passed the Senate, but stalled in the House of Delegates.

O’Malley, who is a Baltimore judge, says she’s hopeful things will be different this year. Her husband, Gov. Martin O’Malley, is making same-sex marriage legislation a priority of the legislative session.

The first lady says religion shouldn’t play a role in determining the laws of the state of Maryland. She says same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue, not a religious one.

Source: AP

Activists gathered in Baltimore for Creating Change

Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocates are gathering in Baltimore through Jan. 29 to strategize and organize in critical election year.

The Creating Change conference is the nation’s largest annual gathering of LGBT civil rights activists.

Highlights, according to an National Gay and Lesbian Task Force release, include a State of the LGBT Movement address, speeches by NAACP president Benjamin Jealous and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, a Capitol Hill lobby day and a faith convening.

Jealous’ speech was scheduled to take place on Jan. 26, which also is a lobby day.

NGLTF executive director Rea Carey is scheduled to deliver the State of the Movement address on Jan. 27 and Donovan will speak on Jan. 28.

The conference concludes on Jan. 29 with a performance by openly gay actor/singer Wilson Cruz.

Baltimore to host Creating Change

About 2,500 LGBT activists will head to Baltimore this month for the national Creating Change conference, the largest gay convention in the country.

The conference is set for Jan. 25 to Jan. 29, with NAACP president Benjamin Jealous delivering the keynote speech on Jan. 26.

The conference is organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and will feature Rea Carey, the organization’s executive director, delivering the annual “State of the Movement” address.

Organizers this month are finalizing plans for a lobby day on Capitol Hill and dozens of workshops.