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OCTOBER 9, 1998    10:01 AM
Loretta Kane 202-331-0066 x762
NOW President Patricia Ireland Warns: 'Feminists Will Not Swallow Sugar-coated Gay-Bashing!'
WASHINGTON - October 9 - This month, NOW activists are organizing Come Out Against Homophobia actions from coast-to-coast.  "We are coming out against homophobia in October, and we're heading to the polls in November to support the candidates who support our issues and our families," NOW President Patricia Ireland said.  NOW/PAC has field staff and volunteer activists working to elect openly lesbian candidates for Congress Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Christine Kehoe (D-CA) and Margarethe Cammermeyer (D-WA).

Ireland's comments come on the heels of the so-called "Coming Out of Homosexuality" media campaign -- a cynical assault against lesbians and gay men, which charges that homosexuality is a choice, not a sexual orientation -- launched yesterday by a coalition of radical right-wing groups.  "As the elections heat up, religious political extremists are trying to hide their hateful agenda behind a benign mask of ‘hope and healing'.  It's time for Focus on the Family and their cohorts to take off the masks and show the bigoted anti-woman, anti-gay agenda lurking just beneath the surface.  Feminists will not swallow sugar-coated gay-bashing.  And we will not let ourselves or our issues be shut out of Congress by their manipulative use of homophobia as a wedge issue in November," Ireland said.

As part of its ongoing national Lesbian Rights Program, NOW is organizing the national Lesbian Rights Summit:  A Feminist Strategy Session, to be held in Washington, D.C., April 23-25, 1999.  Lesbians and their allies will come together from across the country to develop a political agenda for the next millennium.





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