Today at Creating Change Conference in Oakland
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
Spirit of justice moves final Creating Change plenary
‘We are a prophetic people. The people in this room have been called by God to cut a path through the wilderness.’ — Bishop Yvette Flunder
The speakers at the final Creating Change plenary electrified the audience members and sent them on their way inspired and energized to take the lessons of the conference to their work for justice across the country and around the world.
|The Task Force's Russell Roybal presents the Creating Change Award to Andy Marra.|
The Task Force presented a Creating Change Award to Andy Marra, a 20-year-old Korean American transgender activist, the Asian-Pacific Islander media fellow of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and chair of the national board of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Marra spoke about the community gathered in the hall as her family, and spoke about the limited definitions of family frequently presented by right-wing ‘pro-family’ activists, saying, “I refuse to allow my definition of family to be preserved in a fruit jar labeled ‘WASP’ to be stored and brought out for picnics and craft fairs.”
|Matt Foreman presents the Allan Morrow Community Service Award to Regina Shavers.|
The Task Force presented its first annual Allan Morrow Community Service Award to Regina Shavers, founder of GRIOT Circle, an intergenerational and culturally diverse community-based social service organization responsive to the realities and lives of older Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay Male, Two Spirit and Transgender Persons of Color.
“I’m glad to accept this award,” Shaver said, “because it means being old, black and gay is becoming visible.”
In his presentation of a Creating Change Award, California State Assemblymember Mark Leno mentioned the recent California special elections that were seen as a major victory for progressives and an important moment of cooperation between forces that will have to be brought together to defeat the proposed anti-marriage, anti-domestic-partner state constitutional amendments poised for the 2006 California ballot.
“We saw teachers, nurses firefighters, progressive faith leaders, labor leaders and advocacy organizations come together and it is the same coalition that I guarantee you will...succeed in defeating this right-wing extremist marriage amendment limiting the civil rights of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families,” he said.
|Assemblymember Mark Leno presents the Creating Change Award to Marina Gatto.|
Leno presented the award to Marina Gatto, a COLAGE Youth Leadership and Action Program alumnus and Equality California activist whose advocacy was key in the 2005 legislative campaign to pass AB849, the bill to reform the state’s marriage laws
“No child deserves to be told that their family is unequal,” said Gatto, the daughter of a Latina lesbian couple.
Creating Change closed with a thunderous speech by Bishop Yvette Flunder, founder and senior pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco, and presiding bishop of Refuge Ministries/Fellowship 2000, a multi-denominational fellowship of African-American Christian leaders who promote religious inclusion across lines of race, gender, class and sexual orientation.
|Bishop Flunder electrifies the crowd.|
Flunder urged conference attendees to recapture the spiritual power of the LGBT movement.
“We are a prophetic people,” Flunder said. “The people in this room have been called by God to cut a path through the wilderness.”
She added that the LGBT community was too often divided by differences in beliefs, political positions or tactics.
Encouraging activists to put aside differences for the sake of greater justice, she said, “You may not agree with your brother or sister’s position, but you have to act like you do.”
She then encouraged the audience to, “get passionate” about someone else’s cause.
“Wear the T-shirt. Put the bumper sticker on your car. We are much more when we are together than we can ever be when we are separate,” she said.
Lamenting the tendency of religion to be used for violence and separation, especially against LGBT people, Flunder said, “Let’s give up religion for relationships.”
She spoke to the separation many LGBT activists feel from spiritual traditions and faith communities, saying, “Somebody stole God from some of us. Somebody reached down inside you and stole your spirit from you.”
But she encouraged activists not to abandon the spiritual dimension of the work they do for justice, saying, “Activism that is rooted in spirituality can bust hell wide open.”
The audience wildly applauded Flunder’s speech and left the conference with her words resonating as a spiritual call to all justice-seeking people:
“I challenge you, prophets, to stand up!”
Among the day’s other highlights:
Hispanic and Latino Same-Sex Household in the 2000 Census presented key findings from analysis of 2000 Census data on Hispanic same-sex couple households conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. The workshop discussed age, income, citizenship status and other demographic variables examined in the study and showed how these data can be used to educate the public, including LGBT people, about the particular threats anti-LGBT family policies pose to Hispanic same-sex couple families.
Local Organizing with LGBT Families: Building Allies through Playground Politics focused on various strategies developed by several of the growing number of local family membership and organizing agencies around the country for developing strong advocates among parents. Participants discussed how to build allies through the bridges created by children’s involvement in schools, amps, medical settings, playgrounds and a variety of other settings.
Transgender Access to Homeless Shelters, led by several community activists who are working to make shelters safer for transgender people, discussed the problems transgender people face in the shelter system, what is happening to address the problem in cities across the country, and how to approach the problem.
Native Queers focused on the interests and concerns of contemporary American Indian queers. One of the major topics addressed was what makes up the native queer experience.
Strategies for Religious Support of LGBT Civil Rights explored the opportunities and challenges that the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations has encountered as it seeks to be a more progressive religious voice. The coalition is one example of progressive religious leaders and communities of faith working together to form a progressive, effective and media -savvy voice on matters relating to full civil rights for LGBT people.
See you at Creating Change 2006 in Kansas City, Missouri!
Mark your calendar now: November 8–12, 2006
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movementís premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.
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