In a climate of increasing anti-lesbian and gay attacks, NOW is organizing its second annual Come Out Against Homophobia campaign. In October, chapters across the country will raise awareness about upcoming votes in Hawaii and Alaska, discriminatory legislation and a public campaign to legitimize homophobia.
"Lesbians and gays are the latest scapegoats of the right wing," said
Marion Wagner, chair of NOW's Lesbian Rights Committee. "Inequality pays,
so the right wing needs someone to be inferior so that they can forward
the cause of discrimination. It's an economic issue by and large."
The ads, called the "Truth in Love" campaign, coincided with an onslaught of anti-gay legislation, initiatives and candidates aimed at making lesbian and gay rights a "hot" election issue.
In the space of one week, right-wing representatives introduced two adverse amendments to appropriation bills. The Hefley Amendment, named for its author, Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., would have overturned an executive order signed by President Clinton in May. That order bans discrimination against lesbians and gays in the federal workplace. The amendment failed with a 176-252 vote in the House.
The Riggs Amendment, proposed by Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Calif., prohibits federal housing funds to any municipality that requires city-contracted business to offer domestic partner benefits to employees. The amendment, which is specifically aimed at San Francisco, passed by a two-vote margin in the House. If the amendment becomes law, it will strike a devastating blow to San Francisco - forcing the city to change its domestic partner policy or lose 265 million dollars.
NOW activists helped elect Baldwin in 1996 as the first open lesbian in the Wisconsin legislature and are campaigning actively for her election to Congress.
In Hawaii, the GOP is pushing for a constitutional convention, which is required to amend the state constitution. If they win, the very conservative Hawaii legislature could put anything, including stringent anti-abortion laws, into the constitution. With the vast resources the right wing is investing in Hawaii, NOW believes that they will push their entire anti-woman, anti-gay agenda.
"It is urgent that we tell the radical right we will not tolerate prejudice and discrimination," said NOW Membership Vice President Karen Johnson. "Now is our chance to speak out and cast our votes for tolerance, equality and justice."
Call Congress at 202-224-3121 and tell them how you feel about anti-lesbian and gay legislation. Help your chapter plan a Come Out Against Homophobia action in October. Contribute what you can to support NOW's campaign - the Christian Coalition started a phone company and every cent of profit is being sent to Alaska and Hawaii to fuel the campaign to deny lesbians and gays their constitutional rights.