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National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to celebrate 40 years at L.A. brunch | VIDEO

LOS ANGELES -- The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will celebrate 40 years of progressive activism this weekend with a special brunch fundraiser in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Known as one of the nation's leading LGBT equality organizations, the Task Force has been at the forefront of most of the community's equality battles. The organization was founded in 1973, and its earliest work included successfully changing the American Psychiatric Association's classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder.

"No account of the changes in laws and public policies would be complete without attention to [the Task Force's history]," University of Illinois at Chicago gender studies professor John D'Emilio said in his 2002 essay "Interpreting the NGLTF."

"The Task Force played a critical role in the campaign to eliminate the sickness classification of homosexuality. It worked to lift the prohibition on federal civil service employment for gays and lesbians. It strove in the 1970s to make the Democratic Party responsive to the gay community. It took the lead in the 1980s in national organizing against homophobic violence. As AIDS began to devastate gay male communities, the Task Force shaped the first serious efforts in Washington to address the epidemic. It was a founding member of the Military Freedom Project, which prepared the ground for the gays-in-the-military debate of 1993. It has worked with the administrations of presidents from Carter to Clinton."

The organization continues to lead the charge today on many issues that face the LGBT community, and even received recognition from President Barack Obama in honor of the anniversary.

In a video message, President Barack Obama noted that "change always comes from ordinary Americans who sit-in or stand up or march to demand it." He then said that "the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has been a partner at the forefront of that movement for 40 years."

President Obama's full video message is below.

Today, the Task Force works to build the political power of the LGBT community from the ground up. They do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, building the organizational capacity of the LGBT equality movement and generating groundbreaking research through its Policy Institute.

One of the Task Force's premier annual events is the Creating Change Conference which brings together more than 3,500 activists each year for a week of training, workshops, networking, skills-building, and more.

More than 350 workshops are presented at the conference each year, and is considered by many in the activist community to be "the" event of the year not to miss.

The next Creating Change Conference will be held Jan. 29-Feb. 2, 2014 in Houston.

This year and beyond, the Task Force says it is continuing its focus on creating awareness that LGBT people are part of every community and every demographic. The organization is using a cross-movement approach to drive its work on issues such as immigration reform, fighting racial profiling, reproductive freedom for families and building pro-equality communities of faith, among many other issues.

40th anniversary celebration

This Sunday's celebration will feature a presentation of the Task Force's accomplishments and activities over the past four decades and outline the challenges that lie ahead for the LGBT community in the U.S.

The event will go from 11 am to 2 pm, and be held at the Sportsmen's Lodge, located at 12833 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, Calif.

Special guests include Rea Carey, executive director of the Task Force; Congressman Mark Takano (D-Calif.); and Lorri Jean, CEO of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, and former Task Force executive director.

Honorees include former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; and Kafi Blumenfield, executive director of the Liberty Hill Foundation.

"We are very excited to be honoring some great leaders and celebrating 40 years of creating positive change for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community," Carey said in advance of this weekend's celebration. "Please join us for brunch. We need your support now more than ever as we fight to deliver full equality for everyone."

Tickets to the event are $125 and include an open bar, brunch, and the presentation. Purchase tickets HERE.

Highlights of the Task Force’s accomplishments over the past 40 years include

• 1973: The Task Force works to successfully change the American Psychiatric Association's classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder.

• 1975: The Task Force’s efforts help produce the introduction of the first gay rights bill in the U.S. Congress, sponsored by Rep. Bella Abzug.

• 1977: The Task Force arranges with President Jimmy Carter’s assistant Midge Costanza for a historic first White House meeting with representatives of several gay and lesbian organizations. This was the first time in our nation’s history that openly gay and lesbian people are welcomed at the White House and the first official discussion of gay and lesbian rights in the White House.

• 1982: Jeff Levi is hired as the Task Force's first lobbyist, and the first lobbyist anywhere to specifically focus on AIDS issues.

• The Task Force launches the first national project to combat anti-gay violence and establishes the first national crisis hotline. The Anti-Violence Project provided technical assistance to local groups, coordinated the first national surveys of hate-based homophobic violence and worked to bring that violence to the attention of the Justice Department.

• 1983: Researchers discover the virus that causes AIDS. The Task Force, in coalition with other organizations, raises money and helps launch AIDS Action and the NORA (National Organizations Responding to AIDS) coalition.

• 1984: The Task Force issues the first comprehensive report of anti-gay violence. The Task Force Anti-Violence Project is one of the most significant projects in the history of the LGBT movement.

• The Task Force obtains the first funding by the federal government for community-based AIDS service organizations.

• 1988: The Task Force’s Creating Change Conference is born. It grows into the largest annual convening of LGBT rights activists in the country, who gather to mobilize and strategize.

• 1990: The Americans with Disabilities Act is signed into law, with the Task Force lobbying heavily for people with HIV/AIDS to be included.

• 1995: The Task Force Policy Institute is born. It produces a Campus Organizing Manual and a Marriage Organizing Kit. It also releases the first annual survey of state legislation: Capital Gains and Losses: A State-by-State Review of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV/AIDS-Related Legislation.

• 1999: The Task Force leads the planning for Equality Begins at Home, the first-ever coordinated set of lobbying events, public rallies and conferences resulting in 350 political actions in all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

• 2000: The Task Force Policy Institute issues the Outing Age: Public Policy Issues Affecting Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders report and Legislating Equality: A Review of Laws Affecting Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People in the United States. The Task Force co-publishes Transgender Equality: A Handbook for Activists and Policy Makers.

• 2001: The Task Force launches the Power Summit program, which provides skills-building training to local activists to help strengthen the LGBT grassroots movement.

• The Task Force establishes its Legislative Law and Transgender Civil Rights Project to provide legislative and strategy assistance to activists and organizations working to pass LGBT-inclusive, anti-discrimination ordinances or to add coverage for transgender people to existing laws.

• 2002: The Policy Institute issues: Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud: Black Pride Survey 2000, written by five African-American researchers and co-published with nine black pride organizations, it is the largest-ever survey of black LGBT people and reveals fascinating data on the demographics, policy priorities and experiences of discrimination, racism and homophobia.

• 2003: The Task Force celebrates the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down sodomy laws across the country, which had classified LGBT people as criminals for several generations. Back in 1986, the Task Force launched the Privacy Project, the first national education and advocacy campaign to repeal consensual sodomy laws, following the Supreme Court's infamous 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick decision.

• Task Force executive director Matt Foreman is invited to speak at the 40th Anniversary March on Washington.

• 2004: The Task Force brings LGBT activists to the massive March for Women's Lives, emphasizing the strong tie between reproductive rights and equal rights.

• 2005: The Policy Institute issues a groundbreaking report titled Asian Pacific American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender People: a Community Portrait. It also releases a landmark study on black same-gender households in major American cities and its first-ever study of Hispanic and Latino same-sex households.

• 2006: the Task Force announces that the Institute for Welcoming Resources (IWR), an umbrella organization for leading Protestant LGBT welcoming church programs, is merging with and becoming a program of the Task Force.

• 2007: The Task Force’s Policy Institute releases the groundbreaking study Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness. It shows that between 20% and 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT.

• By a 151-45 vote, the Massachusetts Legislature defeats a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-gender marriage. The Task Force Action Fund invested significant staff and resources to protect marriage equality in Massachusetts.

• 2009/2010: Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey hand-delivers a binder containing messages from nearly 700 supporters of LGBT rights to President Obama at the White House's Pride Month reception.

• Congress approves, and the president signs into law, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which the Task Force has lobbied and supported since its inception.

• The Task Force plays a key role in getting the U.S. Census Bureau to report the number of married same-gender couples, which has never been done before. The Task Force is on hand for the official announcement by the U.S. Commerce Department.

• The Task Force commends the State Department for a new policy change that allows transgender people to adjust their passports to reflect their new gender upon certification from their medical doctor that they have received appropriate clinical treatment.

• 2011: The U.S. Department of Labor announces changes to its equal employment statement, including the addition of gender identity as a protected category. These regulatory changes have been made in part through the advocacy of the New Beginning Initiative, a coalition of 26 organizations convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The New Beginning Initiative advocates for federal policy that is friendlier toward LGBT people and their families.

• The Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) release the groundbreaking report, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

• Repeal of the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly lesbian, gay and bisexual service members takes effect. The Task Force pushed for its repeal since the beginning.

• 2012: The Task Force responds to President Obama’s history-making comments supporting marriage for same-sex couples. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has been urging the president to join the millions of Americans who already support marriage equality.

• The Task Force launches “Queer the Vote,” a campaign to educate and mobilize LGBT rights supporters in this critical and volatile election year.

• The Task Force responds to the Obama administration announcement that it will stop deporting some young undocumented immigrants. The Task Force has long advocated for comprehensive and inclusive immigration reform, including the passage of the DREAM Act, which has stalled in Congress.

• The Task Force Action Fund submits testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights hearing on “Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism,” in response to ongoing hate violence, including the shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.

• 2013: In January, at the 25th Anniversary Creating Change Conference in Atlanta, the Task Force discussed such concerns as the intersection of LGBT issues and immigration reform, transgender discrimination, aging, faith and safer schools.

Additional information about The Task Force is HERE.