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Creating Change '99

Knight Initiative highlights need for effective, comprehensive training in voter ID, electoral canvassing and message development

Sept. 10, 1999-Political organizing will take center stage as more than 2,000 activists gather in Oakland Nov. 10-14 for the 12th annual Creating Change conference, the largest annual conference of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) movement.

This year's conference, to take place at the Oakland Marriott City Center, will include some 120 workshops and trainings on such diverse topics as religion, racism, philanthropy and social change, youth and aging issues, sexual liberation and gender identity, cyber organizing, men's health and culture, and its first-ever bisexual track.

But with the GLBT community heading into a pivotal election year and the Knight Initiative on the March 2000 California ballot, more emphasis than ever before will be placed on political organizing and winning elections.

"For many years, from local city halls to state houses to Congress, we have organized for equality and we have won many victories," said NGLTF Executive Director Kerry Lobel. "But 39 states still do not recognize GLBT civil rights. Twenty-eight states still do not have strong hate crimes laws. And the struggle for recognition for our families and our committed relationships remains arduous, as the anti-gay Knight Initiative teaches us. We must realize that our campaign for equality is a marathon, not a sprint. Creating Change will give us the nourishment and energy to keep going."

This year's Creating Change will offer three sessions devoted to electoral training:

  • Defeat the Anti-Gay Knight Initiative, a pre-conference institute scheduled for all day Thursday, Nov. 11. This institute will focus on how to do door-to-door campaigning and to launch a large-scale electoral canvassing effort. This institute precedes the Creating Change conference and requires an additional registration fee.
  • Door-to-Door Campaigning Against the Knight Initiative, scheduled from 6-10 p.m. Friday. Nov. 12. Several hundred activists will take to the streets of Oakland for four hours to knock on doors and identify opponents of the Knight Initiative. This seminar is a follow-up to Thursday's all-day session. Participants who have never door-knocked before will engage in small-group training and role-playing before visiting local neighborhoods.
  • How To Win an Election, scheduled from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 13. This workshop will examine the fundamentals of a political campaign, how the parts fit together and how to achieve success without compromising political principles.

Together, the electoral skills seminars are designed to elevate the political skills of GLBT activists, but also to teach the effectiveness of local organizing, explained NGLTF Political Director Rebecca Isaacs. "The way we will beat right-wing extremists and put an end to anti-gay ballot measures is to overcome our fear of engaging fair-minded, undecided voters in one-on-one conversation," Isaacs explained. "This hands-on, practical skills training is designed to do just that."

The faculty for the three electoral training sessions will be led by Dave Fleischer, Senior Fellow with the NGLTF Policy Institute. Fleischer has spent this year traversing the country and training local GLBT activists on electoral strategy.

The annual Creating Change conference has resulted in the launching of many significant new projects and initiatives, including the launch of Boycott Colorado in 1992; the 1993 "youth uprising" in Durham, the Federation of LGBT Statewide Political Groups and the kickoff of Equality Begins at Home, the historic campaign that witnessed 350 rallies and other events in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico during a one-week period in March.

This year's Creating Change is sponsored with the help of Pacific Bell, Wells Fargo Foundation, the Advocate, and BREATH -- The California Smoke-Free Bar Program (a statewide project of the American Lung Association). American Airlines is the official carrier for Creating Change.

To register or learn how to get involved with Creating Change, please call 202-332-6483, ext. 3329 or visit Journalists wanting to obtain media credentials should fax a letter stating their request to David Elliot at 202-332-0207 or email

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