On an exclusive isle off Las Olas Boulevard, members of the National LGBTQ Task Force gathered to raise money.
Speeches from the executive director, development director and policy director were part of the evening. Married couple Marti Smye and Lisa Madden hosted the party at their waterfront home.
Smye, an organizational behaviorist who has published books about leadership, spoke to the group. She attested to the Task Force’s effectiveness in advancing LGBTQ rights and matters.
“We all would not be here in the form we are,” said Smye. “We are just so lucky.”
Smye said her father didn’t change his love when she revealed her same-sex attraction.
“My father said I loved you when you were a baby in my arms and I love you now,” Smye recalled.
Sunday evening’s cocktail party was another successful haul for the Task Force which produces the annual Winter Party in Miami Beach. Lee Rubin, a Task Force board member, said the Fort Lauderdale event – which featured a raffle of local prize packages -- raised $20,000.
Private donations are collected and no government money is taken, said Saurabh Bajaj, Task Force Development Director. Bajaj said the Task Force is seeking to raise $7 million this year.
“It’s easy to fundraise when you are doing great work,” Bajaj told SFGN in a poolside interview. Later, he would join Executive Director Rea Carey and Policy Director Meghan Maury at the microphone to pitch the Task Force’s mission to around 40 invited guests.
The theme centered on a new era in Washington, D.C . and challenges presented by the Trump administration. Carey said what is happening now will change America for decades to come. Those changes, Carey said, are taking place at “small cubicles in the federal government.”
“They are changing forms,” she said.
Maury’s job is to monitor any regulation changes to LGBT rights. Her program, known as FedWatch, is currently engaged with the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure same-sex couples are counted and recognized on the 2020 Census survey.
Maury, who attended the party with her partner Rebecca Fox, said housing and homelessness were two important issues to The Task Force. She dismissed U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s comments that poverty is “a mindset.”
“Poverty is pretty complex,” said Maury. “It’s certainly not a mindset. There are people facing systematic discrimination and there are people that need access to good jobs and transportation.”
Bajaj, educated on the West Coast of America, said what is happening in Washington, D.C. now is “all fucked up.” He told SFGN Carson’s comments on poverty were “extremely judgmental and rude.”
For the Task Force, January is the organization’s time to shine. The annual Creating Change conference returns to the capital city for its 30th anniversary. Protests will undoubtedly be part of the conference agenda and the Task Force is getting pretty good at them, said Carey.
“Together we are organizing protests and at the end of the day our community is thriving,” Carey told Sunday’s faithful gathered around the pool.
As the sirens of Fort Lauderdale’s boat show blared in the distance, Rubin reminded attendees of the raffle and the Task Force’s tagline -- “Be You.”