July 8, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
22 Latino organizations back pro-LGBT campaign
Gay News, Washington Blade, Latino

National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguía (Photo courtesy of National Council of La Raza)

More than 20 Latino civil rights organizations announced on Sunday that they have endorsed a campaign designed to bolster acceptance of LGBT-specific issues among Hispanics.

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Cuban American National Council, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund are among the 22 groups that have backed the “Familia es Familia” campaign.  The initiative will provide affiliated organizations with trainings, videos, publications and other resources in both English and Spanish on marriage rights for same-sex couples, discrimination and other issues. “Familia es Familia” will also use Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks to further engage Latinos on these issues.

Ingrid Duran of D&P Creative Strategies, a D.C.-based public relations firm that helped create the campaign, told the Blade that “Familia es Familia” will provide “tools and resources to the community to start having conversations about LGBT issues.” She added the campaign deliberately decided to focus on families because of the central role they play in many Latinos’ lives.

“Family unity is extremely important,” said Duran. “We felt that the first line of entry into the community to talk to families.”

The announcement took place during the National Council of La Raza’s annual convention in Las Vegas where gay actor Wilson Cruz and John Berry, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, were among those honored. The gathering also included several workshops on marriage rights for gays and lesbians, bullying, employment and other issues during its’ first-ever LGBT track.

The ‘La Raza’ Board of Directors last month unanimously approved a same-sex marriage resolution. LULAC followed suit on June 30, while MALDEF President Thomas A. Saenz and NCLR President Janet Murguía are among those who have endorsed nuptials for gays and lesbians.

An Arcus Foundation-funded survey that ‘La Raza’ and Social Science Research Solutions released in April shows that 54 percent of Latinos support marriage rights for same-sex couples. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they back civil unions for gays and lesbians, while 78 percent of Latinos support openly gay and lesbian servicemembers. The same poll found that while 83 percent of respondents support LGBT-specific employment protections, only 55 percent said they support adoption rights for gays and lesbians.

“NCLR is deeply committed to the civil rights of all Americans, including our friends and family in the LGBT community,” said Murguía. “We are very proud that this ground-breaking public education campaign, ‘Familia es Familia,’ is being launched at our annual conference this year in Las Vegas.”

Other Latino civil rights leaders also welcomed the campaign.

“The polling shows that many in the Latino community already understand that there is one struggle for equality, a struggle that benefits from appreciating common mission,” Saenz told the Blade. “‘Familia es Familia’ is a campaign that will help to deepen the understanding that a discriminatory deprivation of rights on any basis is a cause of concern for all. Together, we can overcome all of the irrational biases that adversely affect any member of the Latino community.”

Evan Wolfson, whose organization, Freedom to Marry gave $125,000 to the campaign, agreed.

“A growing majority of Latinos in this country know that every gay or lesbian person is part of someone’s family — a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a loved one — and the more conversations we have, family member to family member, the more support for the freedom to marry grows,” Wolfson stressed to the Blade, specifically highlighting marriage rights for same-sex couples. “Latino gay couples seek the freedom to marry to affirm and strengthen their love, their commitment, and their ability to take care of each other and their families; government should not be putting barriers in their way. Freedom to Marry is proud to be supporting the ‘Familia es Familia’ campaign to lift up Hispanic voices and stories as together we make the case for ending the exclusion from marriage.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • Julia Kamenetsky

    This is awesome! I am so proud that this is happening in our country. Additionally, I am so grateful that as I work on putting together my dissertation on the topic of identity negotiation and integration in Latina lesbian and queer women, the present news, as well as NCLR’s and LULAC’s news last month are making headlines.

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