NGLTF Activists Attempt To Defeat Anti-Gay Attack
[TACOME, WA] - Key activists from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force traveled from Washington, D.C. to Tacoma this week to provide assistance to Tacoma United for Fairness (TUFF)/No on Initiative 1 campaign. Eight trained organizers, including seasoned activist and NGLTF Executive Director Lorri Jean, will join NGLTF's Senior Field Organizer, Dan Hawes, and Field Organizer Rodney McKenzie over the next three weeks. The Task Force hopes to dramatically expand TUFF's voter ID effort. This is part of NGLTF's three year plan to expand its field organizing and training program.
"We now have plenty of evidence to prove that the Task Force program works," said Dave Fleischer, the Director of Organizing and Training for the Task Force. "Until last November, our community was losing GLBT related ballot measures 75 percent of the time. In preparation for the 2001 elections, the Task Force worked with local partners to implement its new program, and we began to turn that tide. The Miami victory gives us all the confirmation we need that we can win these measures if we'll only fight them the right way."
Recently, the Task Force received a $1 million grant from the Arcus Foundation to support campaign organizing efforts. The funds will more than triple the Task Force's field staff and help defeat anti-Gay ballot measures like the one facing Tacoma voters next month.
"With up to five additional ballot fights this fall, we can't afford to lose the momentum or the support we gained by winning in Miami," Fleischer continued. "In its generosity and foresight, the Arcus Foundation has provided the Task Force with the resources necessary for us to build our capacity over time to launch grassroots organizing efforts in every community under attack. With lots of hard work and a little luck, we'll turn the tide and put an end to these bigoted ballot measures."
Also joining the effort, campaign management consultant Erik Ludwig. For the past three years, he has been working full-time to defeat anti-Gay ballot measures nationwide. Most recently, Ludwig served as campaign director for Save Dade/No on 14 campaign in Miami. He helped to successfully defeat three anti-Gay repeal attempts by Take Back Miami. In addition, he worked as field director of the No on 2 campaign in Houston. There, Ludwig closed an 11 point margin to come within 6,000 votes of defeating and anti-domestic partnership measure. In addition, he has conducted trainings for Gay activists in New York, Wisconsin and California. Ludwig spoke with the Seattle Gay News Wednesday about his new role. line.jpg (1451 bytes)
"I came to Tacoma simply to defeat the mean spirited anti-Gay attack here. I strongly believe that we must defeat anti-Gay repeal efforts in every city, county and state," he said. "A defeat of anti-discrimination protections in Tacoma would not only be devastating to the fair-minded people of the city and values of its community, but it could further motivate the radical extremists who place these measures on ballots across the country. These attacks must be stopped once and for all. This will only happen when we effectively organize to counter the misinformation and lies put out by the opposition.
"In Tacoma, the stakes are high. Not only does an anti-discrimination law work to protect Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people from discrimination on the job, in housing, public accommodations and finance. It also reflects whether or not Tacoma will be a place where all people, including GLBT people, can feel safe, comfortable and valued living, working and visiting. Tacoma is one of a growing number of American cities to protect citizens against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. We must show that we can protect these laws with the entire GLBT community in tact. No one group in our community should be left behind."
According to Ludwig the campaign strategy is simple. The TUFF/No on Initiative campaign must identify supportive voters and turn them out to vote. A total of 27,500 votes are need to win. A combination of door-to-door contact, phone banking and direct mail are all part of Ludwig's plan. It will be his task to raise the more than $60,000 needed over the next two weeks to make the plan a reality.
"It will take our entire community to defeat this measure. That is why we need everyone who believes that Tacomans should live free from discrimination to make donations of time and money to the campaign," said Ludwig. "Without these funds and volunteer support, we will be unable to buy the direct mail and make the voter contact necessary to effectively communicate with voters who will decide the election. If several hundred volunteers communicate with voters one-on-one and if we raise the $60,000 needed to get-out-the-vote, we should win."
Hawes and McKenzie could not be reached for comment by press time.
[Donations can be made online at www.tufftacoma.org or by mailing checks, payable to TUFF, P.O. Box 1841, Tacoma, WA, 98401. Volunteers should call .]