WHEREAS, the Steering Committee of Pride at Work endorsed the following Call for an Open Process on November 8, 1998:
CALL FOR AN OPEN PROCESS
The Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender people of the USA have organized three national marches on Washington, in 1979, 1987, and in 1993. These marches raised the visibility and advanced the issues of our communities. But the real importance and success of these mobilizations can be measured by the effect they had on our own communities. Grassroots organizing tased issues locally, spawned lasting coalitions, and turn many of us into activists. On state and regional levels, new links were forged. Nationally, constituency organizing resulted in the emergence of national organizations and networks. The marches on Washington have been unique organizing tools that helped build a larger, stronger, and more unified movement.
Each march was very different as were the times during which they were organized. However, each one was run democratically with mass, grassroots involvement, and each followed a similar organizing scenario. A committee (which dissolved after its work was done) organized a national meeting to which representatives of all lesbian and gay (and later expanded to include bisexual and transgender) organizations–local, state, and regional as well as national–were welcomed. Organizational representatives voted, but otherwise, all in attendance were invited to participate in these open meetings. Here, the primary decision whether to have the event was made first, followed by deliberations on the name of the event, the politics, structure, leadership, and the organizing strategy. The, throughout the country, open, democratically run meetings selected delegates, with mandates to include women and people of color, to a national steering committee, the highest decision-making body. Constituencies were also represented in the national steering committee and every national organization in our community was invited to join.
Many of these meetings were at times contentious and chaotic. But in the end the decisions were accepted because the process was fair and inclusive. People from all over the country were motivated to commit their time, energy, and resources to build the marches because they realized that they were both heard and represented. And finally, when the big day arrived, we reveled in and were empowered by our accomplishment. The marches on Washington strengthened our movement largely because they were democratically run grassroots efforts on a massive scale. They have become an essential part of our proud history and a model to other movements for social change.
Now, as a fourth march on Washington is being proposed, we must summon the legacy of the previous three–for the process by which this discussion proceeds will define not only the nature of any event that may follow, but more importantly, that of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender movement itself.
Therefore, we, the Ad Hoc Committee for an Open Process propose:
- that a call be issues for an organizing and strategy conference to include discussion and a decision on the proposed march on Washington and other proposals brought forth, with nothing about the proposed march on Washington presented as a fait accompli;
- that all lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender organizations be invited to send two voting representatives to the meeting;
- that attendance and participation (other than voting) be open to all.
We are calling for an open process to engage our movement in a serious, national discussion on whether or not we want to go to Washington–what’s the purpose, when do we want to go, what would we be calling for, and how do we insure the maximum, most diverse participation in any planning process?
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the members of Pride at Work, at it’s 1999 National Convention, endorses the Call for an Open Process.