All Feminists Needed to Make Lesbian Rights Summit a Success



by Elizabeth Toledo, Vice President-Action
 

Artwork courtesy of Amy E. Bartell

On April 23-25, 1999, NOW will host the Lesbian Rights Summit, a feminist strategy session for lesbians and allies in Washington, D.C. The agenda is packed from Friday morning through Sunday afternoon with powerful speakers, roundtable discussions, entertainment, caucuses, book and poetry readings and film previews. Activists will also be invited to participate in strategy working groups, the results of which will be presented Sunday afternoon to leaders of national organizations that work on lesbian rights issues.

"This Summit is designed to promote grassroots dialogue on feminist strategy," said NOW President Patricia Ireland. "It is also about direct action, so we will wrap up the weekend with a lively protest at the United States Capitol."

The highlights of the Summit will include speakers U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.; Lt. Col. Grethe Cammermeyer, 1998 candidate for U.S. Congress; Urvashi Vaid, author of "Virtual Equality" and director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute; and Willa Taylor, director of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum.

Roundtable presenters include a wide range of talented feminists, from young feminist Rebecca Kirkpatrick to long-time activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, who will receive NOW's Women of Courage Award for their pioneering work on lesbian rights. Topics cover the gamut of feminist issues, and the agenda provides space for caucuses called by Summit participants themselves.
 
 
 

dissapear fearMusical group "disappear fear" will perform at the Lesbian Rights Summit on Friday night.
Friday evening, the folk rock goup disappear fear will perform, as Sonia welcomes her sister Cindy back to the stage. Up-and-coming singer Catie Curtis will open the entertainment. Dancing will be the order of the evening on Saturday.

The Summit presents an extraordinary opportunity to work together and emerge unified and mobilized. It is important that participants come together from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives and be open to considering new ideas and alliances in order to create a force powerful enough to defeat the radical right-wing. This Summit will address LGBT issues and incorporate multiple platforms such as attaining economic justice; eliminating sexism, racism and able-ism; assuring freedom from violence; electing feminists to political office; and educating the nation on the importance of civil rights for all.

NOW's 1998 Vision Statement commits to "ending bigotry and discrimination based on sexual orientation."  This statement also affirms NOW's belief in a multi-issue, multi-tactical strategy. "We will not trade off the rights of one woman for the advancement of another. We will not be divided. We will unite with women who seek freedom and join hands with all the great movements of our time and all time, seeking equality, empowerment and justice."  This Lesbian Rights Summit is a major step forward in the implementation of NOW's vision.


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