The Washington D.C based National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) has hired openly gay Connecticut State Representative Jason W. Barlett (D-Bethel) as Deputy Director.

The NBJC was formed three years ago and is dedicated to ending racism and homophobia by empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

“My primary focus is to grow our membership so that we have numbers to mobilize on a moment's notice, to grow in terms of corporate donations, individual donations and foundations, and to develop a strategic plan so that this organization has the sustainability to advocate on behalf of people of color who are LGBT,” Bartlett told On Top Magazine.

Barlett, 41, came out in February in interviews with The Hartford Courant, the nation's 47th largest newspaper by circulation, and his local paper, the Danbury New-Times. He is the sixth openly gay legislator serving in the Connecticut General Assembly.

His announcement barely made headlines in Hartford where Democrats claim a 70% majority of the General Assembly. Connecticut was the second state to enact gay civil-unions in 2005 after Vermont and the first to do so without judicial intervention. A decision to legalize gay marriage in the state is forthcoming from the Connecticut Supreme Court.

“I am thrilled to have an accomplished executive and legislator join our team. Jason is the realization of NBJC's vision of a society where we all live and serve openly as Americans,” said NBJC Executive Director and CEO H. Alexander Robinson in a prepared statement.

Barlett , who is himself Black, became impassioned while explaining the necessity for an African-American civil rights organization focused on LGBT issues.

“Communities of color sometimes have unique and different needs,” Barlett said. “For example, there have been polls indicating LGBT African-Americans do not feel the same need for same-sex marriage as our white brothers and sisters do.”

“We have young men and women who are Black and Hispanic who are more likely to be hate crime victims in this country and somebody needs to point that out. You know, a New York Times story last Sunday reported that two out of three people infected with HIV are African-American. So when you see statistics like that you recognize and understand a national Black justice coalition needs to have a presence in Washington D.C. and be advocating on those issues.”

“We are an organization that stands in the intersection of the Black community and the LGBT community – there needs to be somebody who can help communicate, facilitate and advocate between the two groups.”

Barlett is among the 358 openly LGBT Democrats who are expected to attend the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver this month.

On the net: The National Black Justice Coalition is at