A little late to the game, but big thanks to the Bay Area Reporter for again pointing out when LGBT organizations block access to the press. In an editorial late last week, BAR blasted the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for allowing Freedom to Marry to hold an “off-the-record” session at the Creating Change conference in Dallas.
In the editorial, BAR noted that Evan Wolfson would not permit the press into his marriage institute session at the annual meeting of LGBT activists. Wolfson later said that the press wasn’t barred from the session, but instead that the session was “off-the-record” and therefore nothing could be reported. As the editorial says, “that is a fine distinction that hardly results in unfettered reporting from that session.” The editorial said NGLTF never responded to BAR’s concerns.
If the session had been about hate crime victims, or victims of sex abuse, we could see the rationale about keeping discussion off the record. But this is an institute about marriage. Anyone who was following the federal Proposition 8 trial via Twitter or on numerous blogs knows full well what the community is up against regarding opposition to marriage equality. And for goodness’ sake, if progressive activists and others can’t articulate their views in a public forum, how are they ever going to accomplish the hard, on-the-ground work of talking to people – in public and private settings?
Creating Change was attended by a number of LGBT and progressive bloggers. Were they also told not to report on what was happening in Wolfson’s session? Did the bloggers agree to these conditions, or were the conditions only placed on the traditional press? Was tweeting permitted? Did any bloggers who were attending the conference, sponsoring panels, and speaking on activist/blogger relationships raise concerns about NGLTF and Freedom to Marry blocking reporting on these sessions?
With the proliferation of “secret” new efforts to organize LGBT activists, what does that mean about transparency and press access?