Jeff Montgomery, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s (Now the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance) strategist and media liaison, is flabbergasted by Rep. Anthony Weiner’s behavior of late.
“[His] decision to text inappropriate photos and messages to apparent strangers is idiotic in many ways,” Montgomery told the Blade, “not the least of which is that he has been seen as one of the savviest congressional masters of hi-tech social media. … He himself said it was ‘dumb.’ His stupidity aside, his actions — notably several days of lying about his activity — should not become a distraction from important work in Congress.”
As the founder of Michigan’s most visible LGBT advocacy organization, Triangle Foundation (now Equality Michigan) Montgomery interfaced with the Michigan Legislature for almost 20 years as the executive director, and understands that scandals like Weiner’s can bring the legislative process to a grinding halt. Weiner’s indiscretions will take attention away from the work needing done on the Hill, and shift it to what the Woodhull Foundation would argue ought to be a private matter.
“Rep. Weiner undoubtedly has much explaining to do in his own house as well as the House of Representatives,” Montgomery continued, “but his fate as a husband and elected official lies with his wife and his constituents. His effectiveness and credibility are in question, not for the stupid communications, but because of the lying and prevarication.”
Named after Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to own a Wall Street firm and run for president, the Woodhull Foundation believes in lifting the stigma of healthy sexuality, not, as they insist, removing responsibility. More than this, the Foundation wants to be sure that policies and laws are kept off the books that curtail healthy, consensual, private behavior between adults.
To that end, Woodhull publishes the annual “State of Sexual Freedom” report, detailing a range of goals the organization believes exemplifies “sexual freedom,” and measures various social institutions’ performance in those areas. The report is published annually in September on “Sexual Freedom Day.”
Woodhull is “the only organization working full time and exclusively on sexual freedom as a fundamental right,” says Montgomery. “With so many attacks on sexual freedom, from the government, conservative groups, certain feminist groups, politicians and others, Woodhull maintains a singular focus on its difficult but important mission of protecting the sexual rights and liberties that everyone should enjoy in a free society.”
Woodhull has seen some successes, including assuring that “sex offender registry” language was kept out of a “sexting” bill recently passed and signed into law in Florida.
Though Woodhull’s mission isn’t specifically LGBT-focused, its goals intersect with many of the goals of the greater LGBT community, and the staff and advisory board are filled with the names of veteran LGBT advocates like Ricci Levy, Steven Aurand, Mandy Carter, Lisbeth Melendez-Rivera and Bil Browning.
“One has to know the scope of problems and the challenges being faced before substantial progress can be made in creating safer and more accepting communities,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery added that the goals of those who will converge on the District this week for Pride and the goals of Woodhull are one in the same.
“Woodhull is the organization at the intersection of all sexual freedom issues because of the common core value of fundamental human rights,” he said. “What is being celebrated this week in D.C. and all month around the country are the joys of life, love and family. Those are the values we honor and those are the rights we seek to secure. Without sexual freedom all personal freedoms are at risk.”