Update on Joint Efforts with the DNC
Your Voices are Being Heard
I wanted to take a moment today to update you on efforts that National Stonewall Democrats have undertaken to move the Democratic National Committee into a closer partnership with the LGBT community.
National Stonewall Democrats has worked closely this summer with the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties to fully integrate our local chapters, LGBT organizations, candidates and ballot campaigns into the Party's 50 State strategy.
Republicans are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on anti-gay initiatives to turn out a portion of their base in 2006. Democrats must offer a response. The work of our chapters in past election cycles demonstrates that it is crucial for Democrats to fund and plan for efforts designed to organize the LGBT community to increase Democratic turnout. Over the past several months, Stonewall and our community have constantly communicated this message and I am pleased to report that the DNC is actively responding through aggressive partnership efforts.
Securing a Political Voice for LGBT Democrats at the DNC
National Stonewall Democrats this year pressed the Democratic National Committee to create and fund a full-time political position within the DNC to organize from the LGBT community. Specifically, Stonewall requested that the DNC place an LGBT organizer within the American Majority Partnership program which sits within the office of DNC Chair Governor Dean.
The Democratic National Committee has now elevated the Director of the DNC Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council (GLLC) to this position. As a result, the DNC now has a full-time political staff member organizing from the LGBT community. As the GLLC had previously been an exclusive fundraising vehicle, a seperate staff position within the organization has been created for this purpose - allowing GLLC Executive Director Brian Bond to focus on political and electoral organizing.
National Stonewall Democrats urged the DNC this spring to partner with statewide campaigns combating discriminatory ballot initiatives. Since each state campaign is unique, Stonewall has helped the DNC initiate assessments on how Democrats can maximize their support in each situation. As a result, the support provided by Stonewall and the DNC has been a response to specific requests made by local activists.
Some examples include:
South Carolina and South Dakota -
Stonewall worked with the DNC to provide statewide ballot campaigns with access
to crucial electoral voterfiles in order to better target local efforts.
2) Illinois - Stonewall worked with the DNC to deliver a $10,000 donation to the Illinois campaign and to mobilize the Democratic Lawyers Association to challenge fraudulent signatures submitted by anti-gay activists. As a result the State of Illinois ruled last week that only 91% of signatures submitted were valid, thereby disqualifying the anti-marriage initiative from the ballot in 2006.
LGBT Pride Month Activities
National Stonewall Democrats has received a large number of calls and emails from chapter leaders who have taken notice of pride organizing materials shipped to grassroots activists by the Democratic National Committee (over 1,000 pounds). These materials were produced - at the request of Stonewall - shortly after a meeting between Governor Dean and the Stonewall Board Executive Committee at our national convention in Pittsburgh in June.
The Democratic National Committee has actively partnered with Stonewall chapters on pride activities (including Black and Latino Pride celebrations), and the DNC has mobilized state and local parties to do the same. These efforts have also helped state parties focus their own resources on further mobilizing the LGBT community.
Proactively Advocating Equality within the Press
Shortly after the New York Court of Appeals ruled last week that same-sex couples do not have a right to marry, the Democratic National Committee was quick to respond by urging Democrats to provide a solution through the state legislature. As a result, the DNC was able to proactively talk about LGBT issues within the mainstream press. Anti-gay interest groups like the Family Research Council quickly attacked the DNC for this response.
National Stonewall Democrats has worked with the Democratic National Committee to strengthen communications on issues that impact the LGBT community. As a result, Governor Dean has increased his availability to LGBT news organizations and the DNC is increasingly discussing the need for equal treatment for all Americans within the mainstream press.
Increasing LGBT Participation within the DNC and State Parties
National Stonewall Democrats continues to work to increase participation by the LGBT community within the DNC and state Democratic parties. Stonewall is working to increase the number of LGBT Democrats serving on the Democratic National Committee and state party executive committees. Additionally, Stonewall will be working with the DNC to further increase the number of LGBT delegates to the Democratic National Convention and state party conventions in 2008.
Demonstrating the Strength of the LGBT Community
National Stonewall Democrats and our chapters have provided Democrats with a valuable resource this election cycle. Thousands of Stonewall Democrats have already participated in neighborhood walks, phone banks, canvass trainings, candidate forums and state conventions. As organizations like the Democratic National Committee partner with our community, it is important that our community demonstrates the strength of this partnership.
I encourage each of you to participate in a local Democratic Reunion event on Saturday, July 29. Local communities will be holding picnics, ball games and other activities and encouraging Democrats to commit to local campaign efforts this year. Already, the DNC is shipping LGBT-specific materials to each of these events.
To find a local Democratic Reunion event, or to host one of your own, click here
We believe that it is crucial for the LGBT community to be fully engaged in Democratic efforts this election cycle, and that it is equally important for Democrats to offer long-term planning on how to continue this participation. Our Board of Directors, staff and local chapters have been involved in securing these joint efforts with the Democratic National Committee. These steps in partnership are the beginning of additional efforts that we look forward to continue to inform you about this year.
P.S. - I would like to thank all of you who have provided me with your kind notes, emails and phone calls since I was named Executive Director. I look forward to working with each of you in our efforts together.