Los Angeles — In response to events over the weekend at the Creating Change conference, organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force in Chicago, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur issued the following statement:
“It is important that LGBT Jews and other Jewish allies understand that they do not stand alone in their extreme disappointment, sadness and disagreement with events this past weekend at Creating Change. Contrary to the stated goal of creating a safe space for everyone, what took place sent a message of exclusion and disrespect to many Jewish members of our own community and to non-LGBT Jewish allies, who have been some of the staunchest advocates for LGBT equality and social justice both in the United States and around the world.
A Wider Bridge, one of two organizations at the reception shut down by some 200 protesters, is an American organization that aims to encourage pluralism in Israel and strengthen the country’s LGBT community through connections with LGBT communities in North America. The other organization, Jerusalem Open House, is a community center that, true to its name, opens its doors to all — Jew and Arab, religious and secular. Rather than representing the Israeli government and its policies, the organizations encourage cooperation and coexistence between people with differing backgrounds and views. The attacks on fellow LGBT organizations simply because they work with Israel’s LGBT community is deeply offensive to many Jews and non-Jews alike. To read about the experience of EQCA Legislative Director Alice Kessler with A Wider Bridge, click here.
The events at Creating Change did a disservice to the broader LGBT movement. We are disappointed that after cancelling the reception and then inviting back A Wider Bridge and Jerusalem Open House, conference organizers failed to take appropriate steps to assure that the reception could occur in light of expected protests and did not ensure that conference participants could attend. They also failed to protect the safety of and respect for participants and conference guests. The verbal and physical intimidation on conference participants who wanted to attend the Wider Bridge event was unacceptable.
We also are extremely disappointed that the conference organizers failed to defend these organizations and correct the false information and gross distortions that were used as a basis for an unfair attack on LGBT people and organizations that serve them. National and state organizations that provide leadership for the LGBT community and movement should always attempt to serve as a moral compass and stand for truth, fairness, respect, and inclusion.
In this case, the Task Force needs to do more to adhere to these values.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org