Pam Spaulding

The DNC LGBT caucus - and the sideshow outside

Filed By Pam Spaulding | August 26, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Democrats, DNC, DNCC, Marylin Musgrave, protesters, rally, Sally Kern, Tim Gill

(My coverage of the LGBT caucus from yesterday -- Pam)

It was a real zoo out yesterday at the Denver Convention Center this afternoon, the venue for the LGBT caucus. Autumn and Terrance were able to get into first because they had the valuable credentials. I waited for Russ, who had the perimeter credential, to arrive from the Pepsi Center so we could swap out. He went off to film some additional fundies for you all, and there is a bumper crop out there -- abortion protesters, environmentalist anti-meat folks (some wearing pig costumes!), and a group of sad-sack John McCainiacs marching.

I was able to interview James Hormel, activist, philanthropist and the first openly gay man to serve as a United States ambassador. I'll have the video of that later. I ran into the gorgeous guys of Towleroad, the other official credentialed LGBT blog (and the bane of Bill Donohue's existence), and a host of folks who said "hello" to all the readers out there.

Among the speakers today at the caucus were: DNC LGBT Caucus Chair, Rick Stafford, Melissa Sklarz, Marjory Hill, John Perez, State Rep Al McCaffrey. There was a roll call of all of the states with LGBT representation. California had 61! Oy, if only more states could say that. You can see the whole list here. A tribute was paid to Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, with a moment of silence.

Philanthropist Tim Gill (who we all know Oklahoma homobigot Sally Kern has a crush on), spoke about LGBT initiatives, and the fact that she needs a career change. He praised the legislative civil equality efforts and successes at the local and state levels. He said the most important thing everyone can do is to support pro-gay state legislators and defeat anti-gay ones. He's concerned that Marilyn Musgrave may pull out another win (god, no), but he says we need to do the hard work to give to states other than your own, to bolster pro-gay candidates in smaller states where more work is needed to get "new careers" for the homophobic elected officials, flip those legislatures from Red to Blue.

This is a refreshing call to action, because so much money flows into the state where the most momentum is, but little attention is paid to parts of the country where the Sally Kerns are still elected time and again.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema spoke about the marriage amendment fight (2008 version) and the success in defeating the last iteration back in 2006. She cited the three Ms for success-- Messaging that resonates with swing voters.
Messengers: more allies and advocates who can deliver focused messages to target audiences.
Money: the LGBT community needs to mobilize the money machinee to equal that of the right wing; Sinema underscored how important this battle is to them as they lose the culture wars, and the transition between their world and full civil equality makes it imperative that money is spread to defeat all the anti-gay marriage amendments.

She also noted the fight in Arkansas to ban the ability of gay and lesbian couples to adopt, and Maryland is considering a rollback of rights for Ts.


1:45: Ah, short break...Autumn, who is in another part of the ballroom, came over to say her computer ran out of juice. There is no wi-fi or power access for laptops, so it's kind of crippling if you don't have an extended life battery. I have a spare, but it's a crappy one that only holds a charge for about an hour.

[Russ just texted -- "the fundies were out in force today! I got lots of good video of me confounding the self-righteous protestors with simple logical questions."]

Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd came over to say hi as I typed away on the keyboard., as did Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate. Ah, it's hard multitasking (I'm also uploading the Hormel video as we speak).

Five-term Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin just got up to speak. There are now 70 members of the LGBT caucus on the Hill, elected officials committed to civil equality. She mentioned again the need to pass an inclusive ENDA. She spoke about the final draft of the Dem platform:

Got hugs from Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality, and delegate Jennifer Clarke (Rep. Todd's partner). Outside of the caucus were our friends who make the hilarious Gay Republican Cards cards...

These guys are going to have to have a second edition.

Here's James Hormel's message to the Blend:

Rachel Maddow is speaking at the Big Tent at 3PM. Would love to get there, but I don't know that I'll be able to get all the way over there as I meet with folks here.

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Just a minor correction. The "rollback" is only in Montgomery County. The state does not yet protect its citizens rights with regard to gender identity. The hate crimes law includes gender identity, so maybe in the upcoming legislative session we will see some movement on this issue.