Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC Event: LGBT Caucus

Today was my first official DNC event. I attended the LGBT Caucus at the Convention Center (not to be confused with the nearby Pepsi Center where the convention is).

The Convention Center did not require credentials to get into, nor did the LGBT Caucus. I did have a pass, and I got the impression that other Caucuses may have required a pass. This one, at least, was open to the public.

When DNC Secretary Alice Germond came onstage, the DNC Secretary received the first standing ovation. She pointed out that there were 41% more LGBT Delegates than in '04.

It was DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Rick Stafford's birthday, and the audience spontaneously sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

He pointed out that there were 275 Delegates that were "out" at the start of the Convention, and that 3 more had come out just during the first few minutes of the caucus, and more were continuing to identify themselves as LGBT.

Also, there were 31 with disabilities, 30 African American, 55 Hispanic, 16 Asian/Pacific Islanders and 11 Native Americans who were members of the LGBT Caucus. In all, about 40% of the LGBT Cuaucs are "people of color".

The Stonewall Democrats have started a "Pride in the Party" program to encourage more minorities to become active members of the caucus.

In 1972 there were only 5 members of the LGBT caucus, started by Tom Charleton, and they have had some ups and downs since then. In 1984, they received official recognition as a caucus, but then were decertified. It was not again until 1996 that the LGBT Caucus was again certified.

Since 1996, the LGBT Caucus has grown to the 3rd largest Caucus, behind only the states of New York and Califiornia.

Chris Porter, Washington state Delegate, was onstage for a moment, and said "When I get up here and say I'm a proud, black gay man, it's because of organizations like the Stonewall Democrats, and others, who did it before me."

Another standing ovation was given to the attending openly gay elected officials.

Alan McAffrey, Representative from Oklahoma, said the changes from being "the gay guy in the Legislature to having recognition for himself and his accomplishments and being seen as a "normal" person was overwhelming.

Melissa Sklare, a Delegate from New York, who identifies as transgender, was homeless years ago, and found her way to an LGBT center. Through that center, she put her life together, and eventually became involved with politics. She said the Democratic Party is where new ideas are born, come to fruition and eventually become law. She received a standing ovation when she talked about the LGBT community reciving basic civil rights in school, life, jobs and healthcare.

California State Representative John C Perez talked about the need to work together on issues, and that the battle for social justice and economic justice is inextricably linked. He said the progress seen in California has not just been from the gay community, but allies working together. He's a member of the Labor and Hispanic Caucuses, in addition to the LGBT, and when the Labor Caucus voted recently, Proposition A is the only unanimous vote in that entire state Caucus.

Perez is from the poorest district in the state, with the highest rates of poverty, uninsured and immigrants. Many were worried that a district like that would not elect an openly gay representative. However, they polled the district, and the Hispanic community there proved that they are more open and accepting than they are given credit for, and more concerned about the actual issues than whether their representative was gay.

Representative Perez then called on delegates to work with others, especially the Labor Caucus, and said that supporting each other was vital. He also pointed out that progress would not have been possible without allies from the straight community.

In 2004, the Stonewall Democrats had 40 chapters across the nation. Today there are 90.

The roll call of caucus members from each state was pretty amazing. Some members "came out" as their states were called, changing the numbers, as noted below by the strikeout:

  • AL - 2

  • AK - 1

  • AZ - 12

  • AR - 2

  • CA - 63

  • CO - 5

  • CT - 1

  • DE - 1

  • Democrats Abroad - 1

  • D.C. - 6

  • FL - 25

  • GA - 9

  • HI - 1

  • ID - 3

  • IL - 10

  • IN - 4

  • IA - 2

  • KS - 1

  • KY - 2

  • LA - 2

  • ME - 3

  • MD - 4

  • MA - 13 14

  • MI - 3

  • MN - 9

  • MS - 1

  • MT - 3

  • NE - 0 1

  • MO - (sorry I couldn't hear this number)

  • NV - 5

  • NH - 2

  • NJ - 8

  • NM - 4

  • NY - 34

  • NC - 6

  • ND - 0

  • OH - 18

  • OK - 3

  • OR - 6

  • PA - 11

  • Puerto Rico - 6

  • RI - 3 6

  • SC - 2

  • SD - 2 3

  • TN - 2

  • TX - 22

  • UT - 4

  • VT - 4

  • Virgin Islands - 0

  • VA - 5

  • WA - 8

  • WV - 2

  • WI - 7

  • WY - 1

There was a moment of silence for Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

Tim Gill came onstage and said "That roll call at the RNC will be much shorter".

He put out a call for us to support pro-gay legislators, and eliminate anti-gay legislators. The Republicans are controlled by a bunch of bigots, and that they only way they'll learn is if we take their power away.

Shannon Minter and State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema talked about marriage bans across the country. Right now the transition from "them to us" is happening, and this is the most difficult time. We need to stay on message and financially support that movement, to finish getting there.

Right now, Arkansas is facing an adoption ban for all unmarried persons, aimed at stopping gay adoptions. Maryland is fighting a restriction of rights and freedoms for transgendered persons. A call for help in these two states was put out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actaully its YOU Misty who is the bigot. Bigotted against anyone who does not accept your "love the queers, do it in the street" mentality.