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Dems to homos: re-closet yourself in 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

[Welcome Raw Story readers...UPDATE (8PM): The DNC issued a press release late today, "A Year of Progress for DNC LGBT Outreach, which outlines specifics regarding the reorganization of its outreach program. You can read it and comment here.]

Folks, we're seeing the official recloseting of the Democrats in terms of gay visibility and outreach. If you had any illusions that the 2006 iteration of the Democratic party isn't ready to throw gays under the bus (but take homo cash), here's convincing evidence to chew on.


1. The anti-gay VA Gov, Tim Kaine, was picked for the State of the Union response. If you've been reading the Blend, you know full well what I think about the symbolism that represented.

What do you think the party is trying to tell gays and lesbians when its choice of Kaine is heralded because "the new governor can best deliver their 2006 message of inclusiveness?" The man's position on his own state's pending marriage amendment is that he's "not comfortable" with the bigoted language but he'll sign the amendment anyway. More here and here.

For those out there who thought this was no big deal in the bigger scheme of things, just an inconsequential matter, the evidence that the party at the national level has the intention of avoiding the "gay issue" is no loud and clear. Re-closeting gays instead of addressing the right wing with alternative, logical framing based on the core values of the party has been deemed a more meaningful (read: winning) strategy. Is Bob Shrum in the house?


2. Howard Dean abolishes DNC gay outreach post. The laughable excuse on this one (via the Washington Blade) is that the reorg "will be more effective than the previous system because it will "bring in a lot more resources from all of the DNCís departments and offices," according to Chris Owens, director of the DNCís American Majority Partnership program.

Right. This quietly took place last year, allegedly to create an integrated effort to address the concerns of minorities as a group. The gay outreach desk was won after a long struggle; to see it eliminated causes legitimate concern.
Gay Democratic Party activist and fundraiser Jeff Soref of New York City said he resigned from the DNC and from his position as chair of the gay caucus in August largely because of Deanís decision to eliminate the gay outreach desk.

"It took us many years to win that position, have it funded and make it effective," Soref said.

Soref said he told Dean "it was not credible" to simply assume that combining all constituent groups into one program without a specific gay coordinator or director would be effective because it would likely result in less attention to the specific concerns of gay Democrats.

"I thought this system could lead to us being re-marginalized by the party," Soref said in an e-mail message to the Blade. "I have seen or heard nothing since that makes me feel that is not happening," he said.

Howard Dean fired off a letter to the Blade after this blew up in his face. It still smells to high heaven.

OK. Is it possible that Jeff Soref was a little paranoid about this and Howard's on the up and up? Well, guess what? Look at this latest development at the DNC...


3. DNC Annual Grassroots Report Omits Any Reference to GLBT Americans. Via Out for Democracy, the news that this new report, unlike previous DNC reports, doesn't even mention the LGBT community or any outreach efforts.

How do you feel now, homos? A tad marginalized, under-appreciated...that doormat/ATM kind of feeling?

Let's take a look at Howard Dean's vision of the core values of the party for 2006. Pay close attention to the sections on civil rights and civil equality, especially given we have state after state passing or preparing to pass amendments making lesbian and gay taxpaying residents second-class citizens.
Focus On Our Core Values

Never Backing Down: Governor Dean has lived up to Martin Luther King, Jr.ís call to never remain silent about the things that matter. From the failed management of the war in Iraq to the moral crisis of 45 million people without access to healthcare, he has shown honesty and backbone and encouraged more Democrats to do the same.

A Clear Agenda: Working with other party leaders, we have created and begun to communicate a clear agenda for change:

Honest Leadership and Open Government -- We will end the Republican culture of corruption and restore a sense of responsibility to elected office, and we will pass fundamental reforms that make government more honest, open, and accountable to the American people than ever before.

Real Security -- We will protect Americans at home by getting serious about homeland security, and address the real threats abroad by capturing or killing Osama bin Laden and focusing on actual (not imagined) nuclear proliferation. We will be prepared for the threats of tomorrow, and we will always tell the truth to our troops and the American people.

Jobs in America that will Stay in America -- We will keep good jobs from leaving and ensure that every job in America is a fair deal. We will balance the budget, ensure that the tax code is simple and fair, and create jobs by making America energy independent.

A Strong Public Education System -- We will strengthen our nationís public schools to restore opportunity and optimism for every American.

A Health Care System that Works for Everyone -- We will join every other industrialized country by making sure everyone has access to affordable health care. We will change a corrupt, inefficient system into one that makes sure the worldís wealthiest country is also the healthiest.
What did you think about the civil equality section? Oh, oops...I'm sorry, you didn't skim past it. IT'S NOT THERE.

And how does that square with past acknowlegments of LGBT outreach? Let's look at a section of a report under former DNC Chair, Terry McAuliffe, from DNC's Facts and Figures Glossary (Feb. 2005):
GLBT Outreach: Under the leadership of Chairman McAuliffe, the DNC in partnership with the Kerry campaign, embarked upon the most comprehensive GLBT pride outreach program in the history of a national political party and presidential campaign. During this election year, the DNC manned tables and marched in more than 75 gay pride events in 22 states, taking the DNC's message of equality and fairness to more than four million GLBT and allied voters. This year's DNC Convention was a historic one for the GLBT community, with a record number of GLBT delegates, standing committee members, DNC members, and staff.
The message is clear -- the Dems are going to avoid the gay issue like the plague again. They are not interested in reframing the issue and not ready to counter the AmTaliban. The Democrats are just not "comfortable" enough to fight at the national level for our rights. Thanks for the heads-up, Howard.

The truth of the matter is, there is no spine in this party, no desire to really take on Republicans on anything remotely related to gay civil equality on any matter (and I'm not just talking about same-sex marriage). One can only conclude that the party doesn't see any urgency about the amendments sweeping through the nation, and that it's a perfectly acceptable position to say "let the states decide" -- to make discrimination of a class of citizens permanent law. Many of those states don't even have a fig leaf of "separate but equal" civil unions/domestic partnerships/"marriage" to offer up to same-sex couples (they can't be equal because none of the over 1000 federal benefits that convey with civil marriage are available to gays).

At this point, because of Dem silence while the void is filled by the hate mongers demonizing gays, you've got some states considering a ban on gays adopting or fostering kids (adoption's already banned in Florida), deep-sixing same-sex benefits, and choosing to kill anti-discrimination bills that propose adding sexual orientation to existing law -- what icing on the cake this is in the daily lives of gay Americans in those locations.

How sad is it that the Democrats allow its agenda to be driven by fear of the likes of the American Family Association's Don and Tim Wildmon, for example, who have effectively bullied and led the GOP by the nose (and has moved on to corporate America). The Dems refuse to politically counter an organization that, reminding folks again:

* has an advocate for executing gays and abortion providers on its radio show

* believes gays were the real evil behind the Holocaust?

* thinks gays are responsible for the "end of times"?

* tries to convince the public that gays are a "public health" threat? or diseased perverts who die early?

These folks are extremist windbags and theocrats, along with the Dobsons, Bauers, and Lou Sheldons screeching out there. If we weren't in Bizarro World, a real Democratic party with real core values would be scorching and silencing these clowns as the crazies that they are.

We're in for a rough ride folks -- and those of you concerned about reproductive freedom, I don't see anything up there for you either. Welcome to the club.

Also:
* BlogActive: Howard Dean goes on rampage... Kills constituent desks
* Keith Boykin: I Want My Gay DNC

Hat tip, Out for Democracy, via PageOneQ

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If you want a read on a get-together Dean had with gay leaders on this in NY, check out the article, Deanís Kiss and Make-Up, at Gay City News. It doesn't sound like everyone left the meeting satisfied.

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As I said up at the top, the DNC sent out a press release today to explain its restructuring and outreach. You can read it and comment here.