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Gay Rights National Lobby: America's forgotten gay rights vanguard

Luther, Tanner

Despite the integral role it played in the fight for LGBT+ rights and its later absorption into the Human Rights Campaign (one of the United State's foremost LGBT+ rights organizations), little scholarship has been written over the Gay Rights National Lobby, one of the most active LGBT+ interest groups in Washington D.C. in the 1970s and 1980s. The GRNL's Wikipedia page is barely more than 220 words, and easy access to online secondary sources detailing its import are scant. During a time when the Reagan administration was busting unions and largely ignoring the AIDS crisis that disproportionately affected the gay community, the GRNL was instrumental in forming an alliance between major American labor unions, such as the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and the SEIU, and the LGBT+ community, securing public endorsements from all of the aforementioned unions in favor gay rights at a time when it was neither politically nor socially savvy to do so.

This study seeks to explore the GRNL's objectives, internal structure, and successes via its newsletter, Capitol Hill. I will analyze all issues across the five years of the publication available to me via the Gale Online LGBT Newspapers and Periodicals database, searching for the methods utilized by the GRNL in order to ascertain its goals of promoting LGBT+ rights, such as the Bill of Gay Rights they lobbied to Congress for ratification. Secondary sources, such as Miriam Frank's Out in the Union, are utilized to better delineate the time period in which the GRNL arose and its lasting impact.