This week I talked with Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, about the 26th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, which recently took place in Houston. Over 4,000 people from all over the country attended this five-day program, which featured over 390 workshops, training sessions, meetings and events. This year's keynote speaker was actress Laverne Cox, who is best known for her work on Orange Is the New Black. Carey gave the "State of the Movement" address, in which she looked forward to critical legislative issues specifically affecting the LGBT community, including passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and fair immigration reform. She also discussed the need for access to quality, affordable health care, as well as racial and economic justice-related issues.
I talked to Carey about this important conference and her spin on LGBT issues. When asked about her personal commitment to LGBT civil rights, she stated:
It started in a few places. My parents were very politically active in the progressive community and in grassroots politics, going door-to-door talking about issues they cared about, and I grew up with that. I also grew up in a community that cared very much about racial justice in the 1960s and 1970s, and it's really been my life's work. I started my activism and advocacy working on issues that affect LGBT queer youth, as well as HIV/AIDS. In fact, at the same time, I was a member of ACT UP DC and I was an LGBT lobbyist. So that also has formed my commitment, which is that there are many strategies that we have to engage in grassroots organizing, legal strategies, sometimes taking to the streets, talking to decision makers, in order to achieve change. So I have truly devoted my life to evolving justice for LGBT people.
Rea Carey is one of the most prominent leaders in the U.S. LGBT rights movement. She became Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2008 after having served as their deputy executive director since 2004. Through her leadership she has advanced a vision of fairness and justice for LGBT people and their families that is broad, inclusive and unabashedly progressive. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force was founded in 1973 and works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality.
For more information on the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, visit thetaskforce.org.
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