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Volume 15/Issue 12

Dear Rip and Marsha:

Thank you very much for awarding NO/AIDS Task Force an AMgrant again in 1997. Your generosity helps ensure that important information about NO/AIDS services, volunteerism, fund-raising and special events reaches the gay and lesbian community.

We are very excited about the development of the Task Force's website and the Internet WALK ads. As agreed, AMBUSH Mag 2000 will be listed as a major NO/AIDS WALK donor in all appropriate WALK advertising and publications and will remain the exclusive local glbt media sponsor. Again, we thank you for your important role in communicating our messages to the community, as well as your unflagging dedication to personal fund-raising for NO/AIDS WALK.
Sincerely yours,
-Kristin Tidwell, Communications Coordinator

Dearest Rip,

In a local paper there appeared recently an article regarding the Lesbian and Gay Community Center, here in New Orleans. I have had to digest this article, and would like to take the time to address some of the content. Realizing it was not your paper that published it, I feel that you are the most likely, based on your past involvements, to publish the following.

First, let us take a good close look at the current Board of Directors, and in general the Co-Chairs positions. This has been one of the least active boards, as far as involvement is concerned, of any previous. Some of their actions (make it) apparent that they are doing everything in their power to shut down the center. Neither are they active in the community, generally, but they are even less active at the center. Most, if not all, of the recent improvements and growth (can be) attributed to certain volunteers. Without these volunteers, the center would not be open 7 days a week or show the internal improvements and cleanliness the center now shows.

The Co-Chairs have the nerve to take credit for something they have not accomplished. There have been others involved, and concerned with the center operations, (but) the Board in general has little or no contact with the day to day operations, or improvements.

I would like to also point out that certain decisions made by the board may, in fact, be beyond their power. And any attempt to close the center, without first convening a meeting of the membership, may be contrary to the bylaws, and state law. The Board has taken a cavalier attitude that the membership and the center is their toy, and they can do whatever they wish to do, without regard to any one else.

The Board continues to fail to take any positive action, with regard to fund raisers, presented by others, but maintain the desire to close the center. If this Board is so intent on closing something that assists and maintains a necessary need to the Gay & Lesbian Community, maybe it is time for them to step aside, and seek those who are willing, and able to help the Center to continue to grow and mature. Over the past years this and similar boards have contributed only a very few bits of time compared to others who have contributed long hours to improve the center.

It is time the membership overall begin to look at what this board is attempting, and the actions they have taken, and proposed to take, and determine if the Board is acting in the best interests of the membership, the gay and lesbians of the area, and the center.

They continue to stick their hands out, and yet there is over $30,000.00 sitting there, with no explanations, or process, to expend it as it was intended, and that was to buy a building. A dream in this market, for where can you find any building, that is usable, for only $30,000?

Now they want to hire a full time person to supposedly manage the Center. And yet they continue to rebuff and degrade the current volunteers and the hours they have dedicated to the center. Hiring anyone would not solve the problems created by this Board, and hiring anyone, (or is this anyone a friend of a friend), will not maintain or contribute anything at this time to the Center. The theory is the board would have better control over this person, but the board is less involved than ever before, and is only seeking to have someone of the specific choosing, to do what the board should be doing. And what if they do hire someone, what guarantee they will stay, and if this person leaves, then the center closes anyway, for there is no one there to run it. No, it is about time that a Board be formed from professional and business persons that can see the viability of the center, and know how to work with its volunteers, and stop looking at pie in the sky ideas, and get down to realities.

It is time the Membership take the Board to an accounting.
-Mike N. Kolmer

Ms. Elizabeth Birch, Executive Director
Human Rights Campaign
1101 14th St. N.W. Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Ms. Birch:

Two years ago seven honorees who had received a Human Rights Campaign award for "Outstanding Leadership and Dedicated Community Service" over the previous three years issued a statement to the Louisiana Human Rights Campaign Committee calling upon it and it's members to do everything in their power to have the protections of the pending federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of 1995 extended to transgendered persons.

At about the same time, both LAGPAC (Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus) and The New Orleans Area Chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays) addressed letters to you supporting the inclusion of transgendered persons in ENDA. In a response to the PFLAG communication, your Chief Legislative Counsel, Michael R. Roybal, indicated that HRC was in the process of drafting amendment language and that HRC would "commit staff and resources to lobby Members of Congress to have the language included in ENDA." Although alternative ENDA bills inclusive of transgendered persons have been drafted, HRC remains primarily committed to the non-inclusive version.

We are told that there are two reasons for this, one being that ENDA is being pushed by a coalition of civil rights organizations, at least some of which refuse or would refuse to support the inclusion. We strongly suspect, however, that HRC has made but little, if any, effort to seek such inclusion. The second reason for the non-inclusion, we are told, is that inclusion would delay passage of ENDA for many years-that half a loaf is better than none- that we can go back and get the other half later. We are of the opinion that this is the real reason, and while we acknowledge the likelihood that there would be at least some delay in passage, we believe transgenders should be included now. Why is it that you are having so much difficulty in understanding that which you are endeavoring to have so many others understand, i.e. that an injustice to one is an injustice to all?

But of more fundamental concern to us is the fact that while The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network routinely include bisexuals and transgenders along with lesbians and gays, HRC never mentions transgenders and only occasionally bisexuals. It is our understanding that this is due to the fact that transgenders and bisexuals are not included in HRC's mission statement. We find it mind boggling that an organization would have a mission statement so inconsistent with its very name. The solution is obvious. We demand that the mission statement be revised to include bisexuals and transgenders.

This issue has been before you for at least two years and despite the fact that you have given limited, mostly behind the scenes support to transgenders, we have come to the conclusion that you are not likely to fully include transgenders in your agenda in the foreseeable future unless your failure to do so were to result in a large scale withdrawal of financial support.

As previous honorees of the Louisiana Human Rights Campaign Committee, we hereby advise you that we are discontinuing our financial support of the HRC until such time as our demands are met. We further advise you that we will encourage and promote a boycott of next year's Louisiana HRC dinner if substantial progress has not been made over the next few months in regard to the issues we have raised in this letter. It is our hope that we will find it unnecessary to take such a drastic step, Sincerely yours,
-B. Skip Ward, R. James Kellogg, Charlene Schneider & Stewart P. Butler
cc: Ambush Magazine

[Letters and Comments should be sent to Ambush Letters, 828-A Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70116-3137]

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