Column: The Task Force - More than Weddings

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In a recent column I followed the progress of marriage equality and noted the widespread belief that, once marriage equality is achieved, we will no longer need to fight for our rights as LGBT people. This might be true for those of us who are white, affluent, cisgender, adults, physically and mentally able, and in a stable marital relationship.

For the rest of us, however, our work is still cut out for us. Nor am I encouraged by the recent activities of so many LGBT rights groups, both local and national, that seem to spend their time holding expensive galas and winning statements from Hollywood celebrities and big city mayors in favor of same-sex marriage.

Fortunately, our oldest national rights organization continues to agree with me that there is more to our liberation than the rights to get married, have children, or serve in the military. The National LGBTQ Task Force began its storied career in 1973 as the National Gay Task Force. Early leaders included Doctors Frank Kameny, Howard Brown and Bruce Voeller, along with Martin Duberman, Barbara Gittings, Ron Gold and Nathalie Rockhill. Among its early achievements, in 1973, was convincing the American Pychiatrist Association to drop its classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder. The Task Force became the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 1985 and the National LGBTQ Task Force this year. The Task Force’s tagline is “Be You” and its vision “is a society that values and respects the diversity of human expression and identify and achieves freedom and equity for all.”

“We are seeing a real palpable hunger in LGBTQ people’s hearts not just to be out, but to bring their entire selves to every aspect of their lives: to ‘Be You’ without fear, without persecution, without discrimination,” said Rea Carey, the Task Force’s Executive Director, in a press release announcing the name change. “And there is a deep desire for more change, to look beyond marriage equality, with millions of us still facing formidable barriers in every aspect of our lives; at school, in housing, employment, in health care, in our faith congregations, in retirement and in basic human rights.”

In a recent mailing, Carey reminded us that “ours must not be a movement for marriage rights alone, but rather a quest for dignity and equality in all aspects of our lives, cradle to grave. . . Marriage is not the singular solution to the discrimination, violence and bigotry LGBTQ people have faced for centuries,” she added. “The LGBTQ community still faces employment discrimination, homelessness and the inability to adopt children who need loving homes. And immigration, housing and health care are also all LGBTQ issues. We need to keep them visible.” The mailing included a petition to the United States Senate, asking that body to outlaw discrimination in the workplace, allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the military, stop the bullying of LGBTQ children and teens in our schools and pass immigration reform that includes asylum for those who are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Though I was a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force years ago, I let my membership lapse due to financial and other matters. The Task Force’s recent changes convinced me to renew my membership. I believe its goals make it a more worthwhile organization than the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, or other, more assimilationist, groups. For more information about the National LGBTQ Task Force, its goals and programs, visit the Task Force’s web site at www.TheTaskForce.org.


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