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LGBT Youth Leaders the Focus of Saturday’s Plenary

February 6, 2010

Aiden Aizumi is awarded with the Paul A. Anderson Award for Youth Leadership. Aizumi, 21, is a transman activist currently studying to become a firefighter/paramedic. Aizumi is an active member of PFLAG and is currently a member of the Pasadena PFLAG executive board and participates in informational panels with PFLAG to educate local high schools and colleges about the LGBT community. Aizumi serves on the Youth Advisory Council of The Trevor Project and has a leadership role in the youth leadership of the organization. Aizumi is photographed here with this proud mom, Marsha. Read more…

Rock-In for Equality: Ending Social Security Discrimination, One Rocking Chair at a Time

February 6, 2010

Same-sex couples in the U.S. have lost more than $2 billion in Social Security benefits in the past decade alone — benefits that would have been afforded to them had they been heterosexual couples.

At this afternoon’s plenary session, Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey and L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri Jean announced the launch of a project intended to put an end to this discrimination, Rock for Equality.

Rock for Equality will call attention to and end the severe economic discrimination that is embedded in Social Security Administration policies and to secure equal recognition of same-sex relationships. Check out upcoming Rock for Equality events:

  • April 11: Washington, D.C.
  • April 18: Los Angeles

We will start by demonstrating outside the local Social Security offices. Then we will march to the Federal Building in West L.A. In D.C., we’re heading to the Capitol! In both cities we will stage a new kind of civil rights event. Some will sit in the street in rocking chairs, thousands more will rally behind them.

The Susan J. Hyde Award and a Queer Pop Quiz

February 5, 2010

Grace Sterling Stowell received the Susan J. Hyde Activism Award for Longevity in the Movement. Stowell is a transgender woman who has been an activist and leader in the social justice and LGBT communities for more than 35 years. She was the first executive director of Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth (BAGLY). Accepting her award, she remembered how far we've come, when she said, "In the '60s I was called a 'sissy,' in the '70s 'faggot,' in the '80s 'drag queen,' in the '90s transgender, in the past decade I was called a 'woman' and now I'm just Grace." Photo by Inga Sarda-Sorensen.

"Queer pop quiz: How many LGBT people are there? Answer: We don't know." That's how Jaime Grant, Task Force Policy Institute director, reminded the Creating Change audience that the U.S. Census Bureau wants an accurate count of everyone in the country – but there's no question in the survey that asks if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It's past time to Queer the Census! Sign the petition at http://www.QueertheCensus.org to demand that the census ask the question and count everyone! Photo by Inga Sarda-Sorensen.

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey presents State of the Movement address

February 5, 2010

Photo by Beck Starr

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey presented the annual State of the Movement address today at Creating Change. What follows below is the full text of Carey’s speech:

A year ago, when we came together, we were digesting a couple of high-profile losses but at the same time we were filled with hope, our minds filled with possibility and promise.

Our sweat, votes, money and work had helped elect a new president and a more pro-LGBT Congress and finally it seemed we would be building a solid floor of legal equality from which we could reach the sky of freedom. Read more…

More Highlights from our Opening Plenary

February 5, 2010

Task Force's Sue Hyde and Russell Roybal start the conference with a bang. Photo by Beck Starr

The First Nations Collective shared an opening prayer at the plenary. Photo by Beck Starr

The dynamic and hardworking Dallas Host Committee co-chairs salute Creating Change conference attendees at the opening plenary on Thursday night. From left to right, Beau Heyen, Lovely Murrell, Marlene Browning and Henry Ramirez III. Photo by Beck Starr

Longtime LGBT rights advocate Beth Zemsky introduced the Task Force Academy for Leadership and Action. The Academy for Leadership and Action's powerful work is rooted in these themes: The ability todevelop and transform worldview, the ability to demonstrate radical welcome, the ability to build capacity and infrastructure and the ability to make immediate political change. Photo by Beck Starr

Highlights from Creating Change’s opening plenary

February 5, 2010

The irrepressible Kate Clinton, Creating Change’s emcee extraordinaire, entertained the crowd throughout the evening, noting that Dallas resident and former President George W. Bush is regularly spotted riding his bicycle around town in his helmet. “Why? What’s to protect?” she quipped. Photo credit: Inga Sarda-Sorensen

The uncompromising and energetic Task Force board co-chairs Lee Rubin and Marsha Botzer welcome the crowd to the 22nd National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. Photo credit: Inga Sarda-Sorensen

Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE, presents Joyce Pierson with the SAGE Advocacy Award for Excellence in Leadership on Aging Issues. Pierson, who does "this work not for the middle but for the edges," acknowledges other leaders in the LGBT elder movement who have created a national voice for LGBT elder rights in her acceptance speech. She also stresses the importance of reinstating the Older Americans Act, which "is subversive enough" to be useful for LGBT elders. Photo credit: Inga Sarda-Sorensen

Sharon M. Day of the First Nations Collective shared an opening prayer at the plenary, and was later presented with the the AIDS Community Action Award. She is the one of the founders of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force.Photo credit: Inga Sarda-Sorensen

Check back Friday for more photos and updates!

Thomas Saenz calls for comprehensive and inclusive immigration reform

February 5, 2010

Thomas Saenz addresses the crowd. Photo credit: Inga Sarda-Sorensen

Thomas A. Saenz , president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), called for comprehensive and inclusive immigration reform at the opening plenary of the 22nd National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. MALDEF is a national organization whose mission is to promote the civil rights of Latinos/as in the United States.

Saenz started his speech by saying that in the six months he has been leading MALDEF, “this is the largest and most energetic crowd” that he’s addressed.

He mentioned that MALDEF is an organization founded 42 years ago in San Antonio, Texas, when Latino lawyers recognized the need for leaders in the Latino civil rights community. It was modeled after the NAACP legal defense fund and work in education, employment, immigrants rights and voting rights.

Saenz expressed hope at the beginning of a new “decade of opportunity and great challenge ahead of us, especially with the prospect of finally moving toward comprehensive immigration reform with a clear path to citizenship and legal status.” Read more…