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AFTRA Members Move Forward with First Meeting of
National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allies Committee
Meeting in Los Angeles will Feature Panel Discussion on Equality Challenges

LOS ANGELES, CA (March 20, 2007)
—A panel discussion exploring the challenges to equality and dignity facing performers in the entertainment and broadcast news industries who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender highlights the first national LGBT and Allies Committee meeting of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists next week.

The meeting and panel discussion is set for 7 p.m. Monday, March 26, in the Frank Maxwell Boardroom at the AFTRA Los Angeles headquarters, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.

AFTRA has been a leader in LGBT rights for over 10 years through its domestic partner health and COBRA benefits, as well as its longtime partnership with the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. This new committee is the next step in a long tradition of providing AFTRA members opportunities to address inequities and create solutions with industry partners in all employment sectors of AFTRA contracts.

“Many AFTRA members are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” said Robin Tyler, AFTRA LGBT Committee Chairperson, “and many still face discrimination in the workplace. By extending retirement benefits to domestic partners of vested retirees last year, AFTRA has once again proven to be an industry leader, and we feel the time to continue this leadership, is now. In an effort to educate the industry, fight discrimination, and support LGBT AFTRA members, as an out lesbian, I am proud to chair this committee.”

The panel of AFTRA members include AFTRA LGBT Committee Chairperson, activist, and comic Robin Tyler; attorney Gloria Allred; writer and actor Bruce Vilanch; former E! Entertainment Television Network host, and KCBS newsperson Steve Kmetko; activist, comedian, writer, and founding chair of AFTRA/SAG/WGA Comedians Caucus Betsy Salkind; actor Alec Mapa; and actor and comedian Alison Angrim. A representative from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association will also participate. A question and answer session will follow.

The LGBT and Allies Committee will provide support to AFTRA performers, broadcasters, and sound recording artists, create solutions towards ending discrimination in the workplace, to educate the industry and the public on these issues, and to form alliances that will foster change in the industry.

The newly formed committee will work with Ray Bradford, AFTRA National Director for Equal Employment Opportunities. An openly gay Latino, Bradford was AFTRA National Second Vice President when, in 1997, he wrote the convention resolution that helped initiate Domestic Partner Benefits under the AFTRA Health Plan. He is also a lifetime member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

Meetings in New York City and other cities around the country will be scheduled in the near future.

Monday’s meeting is open to the public but priority seating will be given to AFTRA members.

About AFTRA:

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. More than 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists are moving forward together through AFTRA to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities. AFTRA members embrace change in society—from new culture to new technology—and incorporate change in their work and craft. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet, and other digital media. Visit AFTRA at