As the first national ethnic organization to endorse same-sex marriage in 1994, JACL has been a long-time proponent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) rights and marriage equality. That commitment was continued at the 2015 National Convention, during which two landmark LGBTQ focused events took place.
During the first national council session JACL chapter delegates passed Emergency Resolution 2, which calls upon JACL to be an ally to the transgender community. E.R. 2 also recognized the LGBTQ advocacy of JACL from individual chapter efforts, the presenting of the Biennium Award to Marsha Aizumi, and the Pacific Southwest District’s Nikkei LGBTQ Initiative.
A special LGBTQ plenary was also held, the first in-depth national conversation in over twenty years on LGBTQ issues for JACL. The plenary featured a multigenerational, multi-ethnic panel of speakers: lawyer and activist Mia Francis-Yamamoto, Human Rights Campaign’s Hyacinth Alvaran, and professional entertainer and speaker Bryan Chan. The plenary facilitated a better understanding of the issues faced by Asian American LGBTQs via speakers’ personal stories. Numerous convention attendees praised the plenary for being informative, extremely relevant to current issues, and emotionally engaging.
In the weeks since Convention JACL has signed onto a letter authored by Campus Pride supporting the addition of questions around LGBTQ identity to The Common Application, an undergraduate application used by over 500 campuses. As the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, JACL continues to be an advocate for LGBTQ rights, including the fight against discrimination.