Bruce Vilanch To Join Panel Discussion For AFTRA

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AFTRA’s New LGBT Group to Meet in L.A.
March 20, 2007
By Lauren Horwitch

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists will host the first meeting of its national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender and Allies Committee next week at the union’s Los Angeles headquarters. The new committee’s goal is to support AFTRA members, work toward ending discrimination in the workplace, and form alliances in the entertainment industry that will foster change.

Comic Robin Tyler, AFTRA’s LGBT Committee chairperson, will participate in a panel discussion and Q&A with actors and gay-rights activists, including attorney Gloria Allred, writer-actor Bruce Vilanch, actor Alec Mapa, comedian Alison Arngrim, founding chair of AFTRA/SAG/WGA Comedians Caucus Betsy Salkind, and a representative from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

“Many AFTRA members are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender&hellipand many still face discrimination in the workplace,” Tyler said in a statement. “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.” Tyler praised the union for extending retirement benefits to same-sex domestic partners of AFTRA members. Domestic partners are eligible to also receive the union’s health and COBRA benefits.

Ray Bradford, AFTRA’s national director for equal employment opportunities, told Back Stage that the new committee is not connected with the Screen Actors Guild’s recently formed LGBT Caucus. However, he said, AFTRA’s group hopes to work closely with the SAG Caucus and its chair, actor-comedian Jason Stuart. Bradford added that Tyler proposed an LGBT group seven years ago, but the union did not have enough membership support to form the committee at that time.

The meeting and panel will take place March 26 at 7 p.m. in the Frank Maxwell Boardroom at the AFTRA Los Angeles headquarters, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. RSVP to or call (323) 634-8128. Meetings in New York and other cities around the country will be scheduled in the future.