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
“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 www.nbjc.org.