NATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN TASK FORCE
Sheri A. Lunn – Director of Communications - 323-857-8751 or 202.641.5592
-Gay Family Donates $100,000 Challenge Grant to Fund the Marriage Equality Work of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
-Nationwide Night of Marriage Equality Parties Growing Quickly; 'A Night to Create Change' Supporters Host House Parties Across the Country
On May 16, 2004, the night before the historic Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling granting equal marriage rights to same-sex couples is scheduled to go into effect, numerous households across the country will host parties in support of the marriage equality work of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Tom Bombardier and John Fowler have been together eight years and are the parents of two children, ages 22 and 24 months. They have donated a $100,000 matching grant in support of the marriage equality work of the Task Force and are not only challenging people across the country to make a donation as part of this matching grant, but they are also challenging people of means to match that grant in full. All gifts received from the "A Night to Create Change" events will be matched dollar for dollar.
"We hope that people will not only step up to the plate and host or participate in these marriage equality parties across the country, but will make large donations to support the good work of the Task Force for a long time to come - their track record in creating positive change across the country is unparalleled," Bombardier said. "We've dug deeply into our pockets - you know they say if you don't have a lump in your throat when you write that donation check you're not giving enough - well we have big lumps in our throats and now, more than ever, is the time for others to do the same."
"Tom and John's belief in the work of the Task Force means so much to us at this critical time in our community's battle for equal civil rights," said Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director. "In these times, when the top anti-gay political and religious organizations have staff and budget sizes more than three times larger than our top LGBT organizations, donations like the Bombardier/Fowler grant mean a lot to the work the Task Force is trying to accomplish on behalf of our community."
"The generosity of our supporters across the country never fails to amaze me," says Charles Robbins, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force director of development. "The 'Night to Create Change' events will prove to be truly empowering events not only for the hosts, but for the people who attend the parties. Already there are dozens of public and private parties happening in big cities and small towns across the country - we challenge Task Force supporters in places where we've assisted in defeating discriminatory legislation and passing pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legislation to add their jurisdictions to the 'Night to Create Change' list and support the continued good work of the Task Force."
Robbins is referring to supporters in states like Michigan, Maine, Washington, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio, Kansas, California, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Connecticut and Texas - just some of the places where the Task Force has invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of staff time promoting and protecting equality.
"It is vital to support the extraordinary work of the Task Force in any way I can," says one of the party hosts, Charles V. Chesson, 42, of Chevy Chase, Maryland. "My reason for doing this is because the Task Force believes in grassroots, community-based solutions - the battle we are facing for marriage equality is in the townships, cities and states across the country - the same places where the Task Force concentrates so much of its work. Those people standing in line for marriage licenses are average citizens simply looking to be part of the "we the people" that we all learn about when we are younger. The Task Force helps us say, 'we ARE the people.'"
The parties will be linked to each other via a national conference call to listen to a "State of the Unions" address from Task Force executive director Matt Foreman and other special guests.
Robbins explains the Night to Create Change concept: "The Task Force asks that hosts do their best to raise $1,000 from friends, family and neighbors. Events can take their own shape and theme - folks could decide to have a large party for 50 guests seeking a suggested donation of $20 or more, or instead they might decide to have a formal dinner with ten of their closest friends and ask them to each donate $100. Hosts are responsible for the cost of refreshments and local promotion and will need to provide their own speaker phone for the conference call. The Task Force will make educational materials available to party hosts.
Lourdes Duarte, of the Miami Beach Night to Create Change organizing committee said, "The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community must unite around the national issue of marriage equality, while raising awareness with family and friends to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. We must educate the community at large about equal rights for all Americans and the Task Force is helping to do just that."
Raul Concepcion, also of Miami Beach, added, "During this time of global instability, President Bush should be supportive of peace and unity in America, and not in waging a war of discrimination based on sexual orientation across this country."
Event hosts still needed. For information on participating in the night of marriage equality parties across the country, log on to the "A Night to Create Change" section of the Task Force Web site (http://www.thetaskforce.org/events/parties.cfm
or contact Charles Robbins at crobbins@TheTaskForce.org or 323.857.8746.
For information on the struggle for marriage equality, log in to the Task Force Marriage Information Resource Center at http://www.TheTaskForce.org/marriagecenter.