• Gay BlogAds

  • Gay News Watch

  • Chris Tweets

  • « From the mouth of a gay Republican | Main | Did he say it? You decide. »

    January 23, 2008

    Foreman winds up mixed bag tenure

    Posted by: Chris

    Mattforemanhand Matt Foreman announced today that he'll be leaving as executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force in April, a position he has held since 2003. His half-decade tenure at "the Task Force" -- which he successfully rebranded from its NGLTF days -- will probably be looked back upon as something akin to Elizabeth Birch's decade at the helm of the Human Rights Campaign.

    Both leaders put their organizations on stronger financial footing. As with Birch's HRC years, the result has been a blossoming -- some woudl say bloating -- of budgets and full-time staff, to the tune of $10 million annually and 54 employees in Foreman's case.

    And, unfortunately, as with Birch, Foreman has precious little beyond institutional strength to show for the work. A press release trumpeting his departure credits him with raising the Task Force's visibility, but that was largely this year in the bruising, divisive fight over transgender protections in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

    It was largely Foreman who organized the "United ENDA" coalition of GLBT groups that announced their opposition to historic gay rights legislation because it did not also include "gender identity" protections; the fact that the votes weren't there was beside the political point.

    The Task Force has always been the more grassroots-focused of the national GBLT rights groups and always more left-wing and "social justice"-minded -- meaning it is a part of the organization's mission to align with other progressive groups on non-GLBT causes. Ther'es nothing wrong -- and much that is right -- with that strategy, except that it's almost invariably accompanied by some admonition that a narrow focus on gay rights is somehow unjust and retrogressive. Foreman did more than his fair share to reinforce, rather than to dispel, that unfortunate and wrong-headed attitude.

    Whether Foreman really smoked his own United ENDA dope, is still trying to purge his guilt for having successfully lobbied for New York's trans-excluded Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), or whether he just saw a clever wedge strategy to use against HRC, the whole trans-or-bust ENDA push will go down as one of the most counterproductive and divisive tactics ever waged in a movement that has a long history of them.

    Foreman was a talented and charismatic leader for an organization that has long been in need of one.  It's too bad that he deployed his considerable skills to the detriment of the movement as a whole and the interests of 90-plus percent of his own constituents -- but that often is the price of uncompromising identity politics.



    TrackBack URL for this entry:


    1. Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications National Gay and Lesbian Task Force on Jan 28, 2008 5:44:29 PM:

      Chris, while you are more than entitled to your opinions about ENDA and Matt, it is factually incorrect to say. “Foreman has precious little beyond institutional strength to show for the work.”

      Here’s only a partial list of Task Force accomplishments over the last 18 months:

       Played an essential role in preserving marriage equality in Massachusetts.

       Played an essential role in doubling the number of LGBT welcoming and affirming congregations in the U.S. over the last 18 months.

       Focused national media attention on the plight of homeless LGBT youth; played an essential role in increasing federal appropriations for runaway and homeless youth by $10.5 million.

       Led the field campaign preparing to defeat an anti-family constitutional amendment expected to be on the November 2008 California ballot.

       Led efforts that resulted in four federal earmark appropriations totaling nearly $800,000 for local LGBT service organizations.

      I could keep on going with accomplishments of prior years – everything from groundbreaking reports on African American same-sex couples (from census data) to being an essential role in defeating the right in Maine and Cincinnati, to the hundreds of activists participating in our top-flight campaign training programs – but we don’t consider this “precious little” nor do our state and local partners.

    1. Citizen Crain on Jan 29, 2008 12:24:38 PM:

      Roberta, your criticisms are well taken. One thing the Task Force has done well under Matt's leadership is to address the concerns of parts of the community that are traditionally neglected -- like the ones you mentioned in your comment. Matt and the Task Force should be congratulated that they did this work in a constructive way, as well. To that extent, saying he did "precious little" was unfair and a disservice.

      Unfortunately, the "United ENDA" farce was far higher profile and much more destructive to "the community" and the movement and it will be viewed in the future in much the same way as the divisive fights of the early '70s and late '90s that hampered the movement as a whole.

      My hope is that new leadership at the Task Force will learn the lessons of the trans-ENDA fight and find a way to advocate for transgender Americans in a way that does not threaten the advancement of gay rights.

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 30, 2011 2:29:12 AM:

      find a way to advocate for transgender Americans in a way that does not threaten the advancement of gay rights.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

    © Citizen Crain - All Rights Reserved | Design by E.Webscapes Design Studio | Powered by: TypePad