Bil Browning

Monday's LGBT Caucus meeting

Filed By Bil Browning | August 25, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Democratic National Convention, Denver convention, DNCC, LGBT caucus, LGBT politics

I'm sitting here at the LGBT Caucus meeting beside Jerame and Indiana delegate Lori Morris. As I look around the room, I see a lot of Projectors in the room including contributors Pam Spaulding, Terrance Heath, Chuck Wolfe, Alexander Robinson and Jeremy Bishop. I've also seen several readers in the crowd.

Colorado state senator Jennifer Vega and state representative Mark Ferrandino welcomed the caucus with a small speech. I met Mark last night at the NGLTF cocktail reception and I was impressed with how dedicated he is to building a coalition of progressive voters to turn out for Democrats in November. Mark did a shout out for the Bilerico Project that will go up sometime today.

There are at least 500 people gathered in the room; it's an amazing sight. According to DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Rick Stafford, the LGBT caucus is bigger than all state caucuses other than New York and California. Simply amazing. I can't resist sitting here and thinking, "We've come a long way, baby."

It wasn't that long ago that we were the love that dare not speak its name. Now I can sit in a room at the Democratic convention with hundreds of other LGBT folks as we flex our political muscle and network with other queers from around the country.

Watching elected officials like Oklahoma state representative Al McAffrey and Campbell, CA councilmember Evan Low speak about being openly gay and serving in office, really reinforces how far our community has traveled in the past couple of decades. It wasn't that long ago that being queer was political suicide.

Good quote from Tim Gill: "I want to tell you about my other job. I call it career councilor. There are thousands of people in this country who need a new job. Sally Kern was mentioned earlier - she has a fantastic career ahead of her - just not in what she's doing now... The only way bigots are going to learn is if we take their power away from them."

So far, Gill is the most engaging speaker. (This isn't the most exciting caucus. About 1/3 of the room has left.)

Representative Tammy Baldwin has taken the stage to rounds of thunderous applause. She's walked the delegates through her years in the minority party and now the majority, mentioning watching Barney Frank gavel the session closed after passing the hate crimes legislation. She also made sure to mention passing a fully inclusive ENDA as a top priority of next year's Congress.

As she speaks about how inclusive the party platform is this year though, I could hear clear muttering that the words "gay and lesbian" or "LGBT" weren't included. That is really sticking in the craw of most LGBT delegates who feel as if they're being shoved back in the closet.

All in all, while the caucus wasn't that exciting, it was definitely uplifting. I saw most other attendee's attentions start to wander quickly - talking to each other, looking around the room, twittering, etc - and I can sympathize. As I look around here at the end of the meeting, a good half of the caucus goers have left.

At the same time, those who are left continue to listen attentively to Rep Baldwin - much more than they listened to anyone else. Two different people have sat on my left during the meeting; neither of them would shut up long enough for me to hear clearly. The first woman kept talking on her phone (loudly) and whooping and hollering anytime a speaker took a breath - even when it wasn't needed.

As the caucus closes, I'm glad I attended although I tried to get a shout out from Rep Baldwin and her staffer ran me off. While she stopped for several photos with caucus attendees, her staffer was incredibly rude about grabbing the Congresswoman and saying, "We have no time for anyone else."

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Wilson46201 | August 25, 2008 6:45 PM

I wonder if local Republican petty bigot and smalltown gossip Gary Welsh will be reporting from the Sodomite Caucus at Minneapolis-St.Paul?

I love reading these posts (here and at Pam's) as things are actually happening. This is how I'd like to experience the convention...with you putting up with the crap, and me getting the first hand account.

It's not that I enjoy your discomfort, Bil - I'm just glad I don't have to deal with the crowd.

I would offer two comments regarding your post:

The LGBT caucus is 3rd in size behind NY and CA? That is amazing to me. We represent the third largest caucus and still this party can't advocate even with slight courage about our constitutional right to marry?

Second, who exactly is Rep Baldwin saving her time for if not this caucus? I hope she gives time to one of the other blogs or I hope she catches some flack.

I wonder, "Isn't this her chance to reach out to her people?" then I think about the scores of people that left during the presentation...and we wonder why we can't get The Party to pretend to give a crap about us.

Also, why is everyone so gracious when the platform doesn't even mention us by name...and we represent the third largest caucus?

Why don't we exercise our power (instead of getting drunk and talking on the fucking cell phone)?

Thank YOU for putting yourself through this and sharing it with me. I wouldn't be able to deal with it....

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 25, 2008 8:14 PM

Bil says, I can't resist sitting here and thinking, "We've come a long way, baby."

Not too far. You're party's last president codified military bigotry and in reaction to the Hawaii marriage debate, campaigned for DOMA and boasted about signing it. LGBT campaign contributions paid for Clinton's bigoted radio ads. Naturally, congressional Democrats overwhelmingly supported DADT and DOMA and do so today, which is why they weren't repealed in the last two years.

Not too far at all. Obama endlessly panders to bigots. So do Leah Daughty (who's running your convention) and Howard Dean, who jointly run the DNC. They’re defending in court against charges of homophobic bigotry, but they have no case as evidenced by their recent offer of $100,000 to settle the case with plaintiff Hitchcock. GLBT contributions to the DP will help pay for the DNC’s legal expenses and the final settlement, which could be as costly as the settlements against child raping catholic priests. And as reported, the DP is too chicken to even say GLBT.

The DNC details can be found in a story by the Washington Blade:

Bil, did you get a chance to check out the antiwar demonstration?

As she speaks about how inclusive the party platform is this year though, I could hear clear muttering that the words "gay and lesbian" or "LGBT" weren't included. That is really sticking in the craw of most LGBT delegates who feel as if they're being shoved back in the closet.

I don't get this one. It seems to be the Dem's new style on LGBT issues. It doesn't really change anything since anyone who cares about these issues, on either side, knows what they're about. It just seems childish and petty.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 26, 2008 4:28 AM

Alex, I don't think its style or even pettiness. Politicians are both careful and manipulative (Most are lawyers or even legal scholars like Clinton who knew exactly what he was doing with DADT and DOMA and Obama who knows exactly why we’ve been excised from his platform. Politicians usually have good reasons for what they do, and in this case its to pander to christian bigots.

If it were just pettiness it would come from someone like Leah Daughtry, an ordained pentescostal bigot and manager of the DNC. If you’ve read the articles in the Blade it's pretty clear that the DNC under her management is a hotbed of rightwing bigotry. She runs a DNC outfit called 'Faith in Action" which contributes DNC funds (including monies contributed by GLBT folks) to do outreach (read pandering) to rightwing christian bigots and opponents of choice for women.

According to the NY Times Daughtrty’s pet project the FIA “has also financed the faith outreach of state parties, sometimes in striking ways. In Alabama, the pro-life party chairman was given F.I.A. money to publish a ‘Faith and Values Voters Guide’ in local newspapers just before Election Day in 2006. The 12-page insert provided the religious narratives of statewide Democratic candidates – ‘I was richly blessed in my life with parents who raised me in a Christian home. . . .’- and concluded with a Democratic ‘covenant for the future.’ The covenant pledged to ‘require public schools to offer Bible literacy as part of their curriculum’ and made at least two vows that run counter to positions of the national party: to ‘pass a constitutional amendment confirming that all life is a gift from God and should be protected; and that life begins at conception’ and to ‘defeat any efforts to redefine marriage or provide the benefits of marriage to a same-sex union.’”
However the testimony from the GLBT discrimination trial against the Democrats reveals that it’s Obama who really calls the shots on these questions and that the DNC just does what they’re told.. And so does the platform committee. Dean says ‘They write the platform at the direction of the nominee.’. Obama authored the platform and it’s exclusion of even the terms gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual/transgendered. He’s afraid of being identified with us.

And your party Bill started a war on a lie, blew a trillion dollar surplus, stole two elections, enacted policies that made this country less secure and more mean spirited, and fattened the wallets of the rich at the expense of the middle class.

The only thing that conservatives have achieved in the last 7 years is prove how jacked up and bankrupt their political philosophy is.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 26, 2008 2:59 AM

Roberts, someday you're just going to have to take the trouble to sit down and learn about history. It’s not hard and it’s a critical tool for anyone who wants to be taken seriously.

If you even read newspapers you’d know that it was Clinton and his administration that first lied about Hussein-AL Qaeda and WMD's to support Clinton’s murderous policy that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children according to UN and food relief sources. Later, your Party’s accomplice in the murder of Iraqis, the Republicans, simply revived those lies after 9-11, supported by Senators Clinton, Biden and others. If you know about history you wouldn’t get exposed for not knowing things like that. You’d know that the Democrats and the Republicans both support the war.

(That is why you like Obama, isn’t it, Roberts? Because he’s going to extend the war and maybe expand it into Pakistan? You'd have really liked LBJ.)

If you knew any thing about politics you’d know that your Party's vice presidential candidate, Biden, campaigned for the 2005 Bankruptcy bill, the one that limits the right of working people to file for bankruptcy and eases the landlord’s ability to evict bankrupt tenants. Who but the most amateurish political thinker refuses to see the connection between Biden’s campaign for the credit card industry’s bankruptcy law and the fact that that same industry is centered in Delaware, Biden’s home state? See, education is important -it's much better than endlessy repeating spin. It’d might even help you see that both parties are against the interests of the working classes, but since you're supporting Obama (NAFTA) and Biden (bought and paid for by credit card comnpanies) you don't care.

Your Party's has been the leading party of homophobia for the last two years. And you're going to vote for them. Don't worry, the left will be around to clean up the mess you make.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | August 26, 2008 5:23 AM

And who can forget the real American hero of the evening? Ted Kennedy was magnificent and Gay inclusive. The seat at the table is there for us, but it is our job still to do the heavy lifting.

Yeah. A "seat at the table for gays and lesbians." In spite of his great speech, he has constantly kept transgender people out of ENDA and refused to meet with trans people from his own state . . . until the past year. The first time he ever tried using the word "transgender" (3 years ago) he called us, "transgenerals." Hell, I was in the Navy, so I don't know if I want to be promoted if I end up in the Army. He maybe the hero of gays and lesbians, and may have been a champion of civil rights over the years, but he has a long way to go to be a hero for our community, assuming he lives long enough to learn.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 26, 2008 11:57 PM

Most of us left Camelot behind because we found out it was just another lie, an excuse for stalling on voting and housing rights bills and invasions of Cuba and Vietnam.

Some however, never grew up. They’re still enraptured by juvenile fantasies of rescue by a shining knight on a white horse. How awful for them.

Perdue, I've forgotten more history than you'll ever learn or know.

Robert, part of that heavy lifting process is to recognize that the gay rights movement has to have a moral component. If you are going to demand rights for yourself, you cannot leave others behind. As John F. Kennedy once said, "When we give rights to others, we expand rights for ourselves."

You have to design legislation to cover the most people possible, not 'narrowcast' it.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 27, 2008 1:08 AM
“Perdue, I've forgotten more history than you'll ever learn or know.”

Apparently not, Roberts because you're still totally brain addled about politics and history.
You see. Roberts, it’s like this. You’re a Democrat snuggled up with Dean, Daughtry, Frank, Kennedy, Pelosi and Obama. They collectively oppose GLBT rights and proved it by discriminating against LGBT staff in the DNC, taking a hatchet to ENDA, pandering to bigots (that’s the entirety of Obama’s, Frank’s and Daughtry’s strategy), ditching the hate crimes bill, refusing to repeal DADT and DOMA and importuning pulpit pimps with ‘faith based’ ‘charitable contributions’. And you support them because you suppress all that history.

Beyond that, you actually shill for them, Robert’s. Aren’t you one of those people who defend Obama’s pandering to christists? Don’t you say that not all evangelical christers are bigots? (Actually you have a point. I’m told by usually reliable sources that 231 evangelist christers, spread out over 36 states, are in fact not anti-GLBT bigots. I can even get you a list of their names - it only takes a page or two.) But most of them are bigots and Obama’s going after them and winning their votes using revival meetings and excising the names GLBT from the platform.

You’d think that the platform committee would have to have one or two people with backbones. Apparently they're as spineless as the Republicans who walked and talked the bigot line to get elected. If you knew the history of the Republicans you’d fight what’s happening in your Party tooth and nail instead of embracing it. But you don't know history.

Sooner or later events like the ongoing war, economic crumpling and rampaging christian bigotry, which you and your party support, will inevitably lead millions more GLBT folks, opponents of imperial wars and working people and others to turn against your and your Republican accomplices. Just like the generations of 1776 turned on the Tories and the generation of 1860 turned on the slavers.

For socialists like me that’s going to be great fun, and in fact it’s already started. That’s why people like you and your Republican partners in crime get so panicked. You should be.