Rep. Jared Polis and Roberta Kaplan—the lawyer who invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act—headlined the progressive protest against the ejection of Israel’s premier gay rights organization from a major LGBTQ conference
The National LGBTQ Task Force has reinstated a joint American-Israeli event at their annual conference, after its cancellation provoked strong protest from progressive Jewish community.
This coming Friday night, A Wider Bridge, a U.S.-based non-profit that fosters connections between American and Israeli gay Jews, and Jerusalem’s Open House, Israel’s premier gay rights organization, were set to host a Shabbat reception at the Creating Change conference in Chicago. Convened by the National LGBTQ Task Force, the conference is billed as the largest LGBTQ gathering in America. Naturally, one would expect gay Jewish organizations to take part. But over the weekend, the long-approved Wider Bridge event was cancelled by the Task Force, after the organization came under pressure from a small group of radical anti-Israel activists.
In a statement to Haaretz, Rea Carey, the executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said that “while we welcome robust discourse and political action, given the complexity and deep passions on all sides, we concluded the event wouldn’t be productive or meet the stated goals of its organizers. We also have the overarching responsibility to ensure that Creating Change is a safe space for attendees.”
Needless to say, this booting of Israeli gays and their American Jewish supporters did not go over well with the progressive Jewish community. The New Israel Fund, which has long funded Jerusalem Open House and many other liberal Israeli groups,condemned the move as “morally and pragmatically wrong.” A petition calling for the event’s reinstatement gathered over 1,100 signatures, including those of prominent LGBT rabbis and activists—Jewish and not.