Where We Stand

 

Note: The following letter was sent today to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate

December 9, 2004

Dear Member of Congress (or Senator) ___________:

First, know that we appreciate and value the thoughtful and visionary leadership so many of you have provided. As a community, we are proud to have allies in both parties.

There has been much speculation over the last month about the meaning of the results of the last election and its impact on the future of American politics. Some have even suggested that same-sex marriage was a major factor in the outcome. Upon reflection, thoughtful analysts have come to dismiss that notion and realize that terrorism and the War in Iraq were uppermost on people's minds.

The powerful and revealing fact is that that over 60% of voters in November 2 exit polls said they supported either marriage or civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. What remarkable progress we have made over these last years.

The New York Times today reported that some in the LGBT community are ready to pull back on our struggle for freedom to make everyone more comfortable politically, or willing to bargain away the rights of others to make a deal for themselves. Specifically, the notion was advanced that we could make gains at the expense of senior citizens by privatizing Social Security.

For our part, we want to be absolutely clear and on the record: We specifically reject any attempts to trade equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, a group that includes many elders, for the rights of senior citizens under Social Security or, for that matter, the rights of any other group of Americans.

Finally, although the struggle for freedom can be difficult and painful for those without full equality, it would be an historic mistake to grow tired of the battle or surrender basic rights and equality in order to make the road easier. We have made it through some extremely harsh and challenging times, including losing thousands and thousands of our friends and family to HIV/AIDS. This is a community that has heroically walked its own path of tribulations and travail, determined to be free and proud American citizens.

We will not sacrifice our rights  or the rights of others like senior citizens on the altar of political expediency. Most of us, if confronted with that choice, would not even know where to begin. Which right would we give up? The right to adopt children? The right to serve our country proudly and with honor? The right to be at our partner’s bedside in death? And how much would we be willing to hurt others like seniors as part of a cynical deal to “help” ourselves? We are not for sale to those who would undermine Social Security and we are not prepared to walk away from political leaders who have stood with us.

Nothing short of full equality and protection granted to all other American citizens is acceptable. We know that these are times that require wise and brave people who believe and love justice and freedom.

Given recent events, we wanted to restate our determination to do what’s right for our community, for senior citizens, and for America. With the greatest respect,

Sincerely,

David Barr

Roberta Bennett

Steve Black, Political Director
The Pennsylvania Gay And Lesbian Alliance (PA-GALA)

David Bohnett

Craig A. Bowman, Executive director
National Youth Advocacy Coalition

Kent Burbank, Executive Director
Wingspan (Southern Arizona's LGBT Community Center)

Richard D. Burns, Executive Director
Lesbian,Gay,Bisexual & Transgender Community Center - New York

Alan Van Capelle, Executive Director
Empire State Pride Agenda

Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director
Lambda Legal

Josh Cazares and Nancy Wohlforth, Board Co-Presidents
Pride At Work, AFL-CIO

George Chauncey, Ph.D., Professor of History
University of Chicago

Bruce Cohen

Darrel Cummings, Chief of Staff
Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center

Ann DeGroot, Executive Director
Out Front Minnesota

John D'Emilio, Professor of History
University of Illinois at Chicago

Sue Doerfer, Executive Director
Lesbian-Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland

Hon. John J. Duran, Mayor
City of West Hollywood, California

Randall Ellis, Executive Director
Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas

Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Laurent Fischer

Patrick Flaherty, Director of Community Relations
Milwaukee Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center

Michael Fleming, Executive Director
David Bohnett Foundation

Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Matthew J. Gallagher, Executive Director
DignityUSA

Rick Garcia, Director
Equality Illinois

Penny Gardner, Ph.D., Program Director
Michigan Equality

Aimee Gelnaw, Executive Director
Family Pride Coalition

Herb Hamsher

Richard S. Haymes, Executive Director
New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project

Terry Kaelber, Executive Director
Seniors in a Gay Environment (SAGE)

Michael Kearns

Mara Keisling, Executive Director
National Center for Transgender Equality

Kate Kendell, Esq., Executive Director 
National Center for Lesbian Rights

Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director

Equality California

Bill Melamed, Board Member
American Foundation for AIDS Research

David Mixner

Jeffrey Montgomery, Executive Director
Triangle Foundation

Sheila Healy, Executive Director
National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Centers

Dave Noble, Executive Director
National Stonewall Democrats

Clarence Patton, Interim Executive Director
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

Christopher J. Price

Warren Redman-Gress, Executive Director
Alliance For Full Acceptance

Doug Riley, Executive Director
Kansas City Anti-Violence Project

H. Alexander Robinson
National Black Justice Coalition

Eric Rofes

Stacey L. Sobel, Executive Director
Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights

Jeff Soukup

Jonathan Stoller

Bernard Whitman

Phill Wilson, Executive Director
Black AIDS Institute

Evan Wolfson, Executive Director
Freedom to Marry