Tuesday, February 06, 2007

GLBT and the DNC

A number of interesting GLBT news items emerged from this past weekend’s annual, winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee. Most importantly, it appears that party Chairman Howard Dean, the DNC, and most of the Democratic presidential candidates recognize the importance of publicly supporting GLBT equality. As our community begins to scrutinize the commitment of each presidential candidate, GLBT party activists are working to increase our communities influence on the upcoming primary season.

More specifically, as has been reported by the "Washington Blade," in a speech given to the DNC's GLBT caucus on Saturday, Howard Dean expressed deep gratitude for gay activism during the 2006 election cycle.

Last year, some GLBT democrats criticized Dean for supposedly abandoning our constituency with the implementation of the now famous "fifty state strategy," which focused on making gains in rural, traditionally republican states, but after reading this article, I'm beginning to think that the goal of mobilizing rural democrats and the goal of mobilizing GLBT democrats are not mutually exclusive.

Also during the DNC meeting, each Democratic presidential candidate presented a stump speech, formally introducing themselves to the party. As far as can see, only New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson directly mentioned GLBT issues in his speech. (Click on the quote to watch Richardson's full speech).

Although Richardson was the only candidate to mention GLBT issues in his speech, the Washington Blade reports that gay politicos, who met each candidate during the meeting, were most impressed with two of the top tier contenders, John Edwards and Barack Obama:

Democratic National Committee GLBT Caucus Chair Rick Stafford and other politicos said Edwards and Obama have quickly outshined a crowded field of other White House hopefuls because they’re prepared to sincerely discuss gay issues.

Culminating his DNC appearance, Edwards, during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," demonstrated the sort of sincerity described by Stafford. In this excerpt, Edwards talks about reconciling his faith background with same-sex marriage. (This clip opens with a brief discussion of the Yucca Mountain hazardous waste depository).

It should be noted that none of the major democratic candidates, including Al Gore and Wes Clark, have publicly supported same-sex marriage.

Finally, gay party activists are working to get more GLBT delegates to the 2008 national convention.

Minnesota activist Rick Stafford, the chair of the DNC gay caucus, said caucus members have joined forces with the gay group National Stonewall Democrats to encourage party leaders to help elect more gays as delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Stafford said DNC officials have promised to facilitate gay Democrats’ plans to work with leaders of state parties — including those in traditionally conservative “red” states — to include gays in their delegate selection plans. In a proposal that could become controversial in some states, Stafford said the gay caucus is calling on all state parties to set as a voluntary “goal” a contingent of gay delegates to the 2008 convention that come to at least 6 percent to 7 percent of the total number of delegates.

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