“‘Supporting an LGBT fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton will actually hurt our community,’ wrote Van Capelle in a leaked memorandum to his board of directors. ‘We have become a community that throws money at politicians and we demand nothing in return.’
His comments have started a healthy, if not painful, debate about the place of gay people in the Democratic Party. Van Capelle expressed a growing feeling among many Democrats that the LGBT community isn’t getting a good return on its investment. These disgruntled Democrats believe that gay people raise millions of dollars for the party and provide armies of volunteers, but gain little.” — Wayne Besen
The latest round of Democrats turning their backs on their strongest supporters seems to have started when former Clinton staffer and campaigner Paul Yandura sent a letter to gay Democratic activists urging them to no longer send money to the Democrats because of their failure to combat anti-gay ballot initiatives around the country. From the Washington Blade:
Paul Yandura, a party loyalist, sent an open letter on April 20 to gay Democratic activists charging that Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee have failed to counter efforts by Republicans to promote anti-gay ballot measures as a wedge issue to win elections.
“For many months, a number of us have made appeals to Howard Dean and party officials to care about and defend the dignity of gay and lesbian families and friends, in the same way they defend the dignity of other key constituencies,” Yandura said in his letter.
“All progressives need to be asking how much has the DNC budgeted to counter the anti-gay ballot initiatives in the states,” he said. “We also need to know why the DNC and our Democratic leaders continue to allow the Republicans to use our families and friends as pawns to win elections.”
In a comment that is certain to raise eyebrows among party leaders, Yandura added that until the party provides answers to these questions, “my advice is don’t give any more money to the Dems.”
Yandura’s outspoken remarks create an uncomfortable situation for DNC officials and his domestic partner, Donald Hitchcock. Hitchcock serves as the DNC’s adviser on gay issues as well as director of the DNC’s gay fundraising arm, the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council.
It has become more uncomfortable for Hitchcock, as he was fired just a few days later. AMERICAblog suggests:
Can you say Valerie Plame?
The Democratic National Committee yesterday Paul Yandura, publicly criticizing the DNC for not being pro-gay enough., my friend Donald Hitchcock, and immediately replaced him with someone else (thus showing the position wasn’t phased out). What’s odd about the firing, to put it lightly is that it comes within days of Donald’s partner,
The DNC claims they aren’t retaliating against the spouse for the other spouse’s politics. From all apperances [sic], that’s exactly what they’re doing.
the official Dean response, but it is clear that the smoke has not cleared on this issue, yet.
“It was not retaliation,” Finney said of Hitchcock’s dismissal. “It was decided we needed a change. We decided to hire a proven leader.”
Hitchcock declined comment Tuesday night except to confirm that Dean informed him May 2 through a surrogate that he had been terminated. He said he was considering consulting an attorney to decide whether to contest the firing.
“This is retaliation, plain and simple,” said Yandura. “This shows what they think about domestic partners.”
Yandura said Tuesday night that Dean was using Hitchcock as a “scapegoat” for problems of Dean’s own making.
“All I did was ask questions about what the party and Dean are doing about its GLBT constituency, Yandura said. “I have yet to see any answers.”
There are solutions for GLBT activists and donors who truly wish to promote a political agenda which insists that homosexuals are treated the same as their heterosexual counterparts, but they have nothing to do with the Democratic Party. For those wishing to help on a national level, I’d suggest checking out Outright Libertarians. Here’s from the Outright FAQ:
I agree with the LP on all but two issues, am I a Libertarian?
It would depend on what the two issues are and how important they each are to you. If one of the two issues is the “Non-Initiation of Force” principle (i.e. you prefer the US to strike its enemies down BEFORE they actually do something against us) then you are probably not a libertarian. If you disagree with us about some lesser issue but that issue happens to be a pivotal issue for you, then you probably won’t want to vote for very many libertarian candidates. But consider this; if you only disagreed with the Democratic Party on two issues, would you hesitate to call yourself a Democrat?
For those who may not wish to totally abandon the Democratic Party, but wish to plop some money down in a very real way that will help GBLT rights while making their voice heard within DNC ranks, I’d suggest pumping some bucks intoin Alabama. Here’s why:
- The incumbent candidate is Republican Bob Riley. Here’s the local scoop (I think the writer is a Dem and she seems to be supporting Nall) on her view of gay marriage:
Alabama Governor Bob Riley is a family man, and as long as he’s in charge, his kind of family – a hetero one – is the only one that gets his endorsement.
- Riley is opposed in the GOP primary by Roy Moore. I’m sure most Democrats don’t need to be reminded of how scary Moore is, but here’s my local take on Moore’s view for those who don’t know anything about him:
Based on his own words, we now know that Moore would execute homosexuals if state law allowed for it. We don’t yet know how far he’d take it if our teenagers get caught engaged in some heavy petting or if an unmarried couple is exposed for having oral sex. I don’t wish to ever have to find out, either.
- Democratic Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley is up to her old tricks of ducking the issues. A Google search indicates she has totally ducked gay rights issues for years. Since she’s ducking, we have to read between the lines. From the local news:
Her announcement, complete with gospel music, a minister’s invocation, a balloon drop and other pageantry modeled after presidential nominating conventions, comes months after Baxley first confirmed that she planned to seek the job.
From her campaign website:
While it is important that we maintain constitutional standards regarding the promotion of a specific religious faith, Lucy believes that understanding the importance of the Bible on American life is an [sic] critical part of a child’s education.
that Baxley is trying to out-Jesus Roy Moore:
And Ms. Baxley positioned herself to take on Republican Gov. Bob Riley or his main challenger, former Ten Commandments Judge Roy Moore, by emphasizing her own faith.
“From the time I was a little girl, I took to heart the bible verse I was taught in church. It is the creed I always strive to follow,” she said, quoting Luke 10:27: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart . . . soul . . . strength and mind . . . Love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Democratic former Governor Don Siegelman’s record on gay rights is as bare as Baxley’s is. Additionally, it doesn’t look like he’ll win the Democratic nod on June 6 because of . In addition to other issues, he’s been accused of taking $500,000 from then-HealthSouth Chief Executive Officer Richard Scrushy in exchange for an appointment to Alabama’s Certificate of Need Review Board.
A high-ranking member of former Gov. Don Siegelman’s staff testified Tuesday that there was an “absolute agreement” between three members of the governor’s office and a lobbyist who produced gifts, plane rides and campaign contributions for official state acts.
Nick Bailey, who was Siegelman’s executive secretary while he was governor and lieutenant governor, told jurors that Siegelman operated a pay-for-play administration during his public service, then tried to cover his tracks after authorities began a criminal investigation in 2001.
- Loretta Nall is on the record on gay rights issues.
“When I say I’m pro-family, I mean I’m pro-family for everyone,” says Mrs. Nall, mother of two — and the Libertarian Party’s 2006 nominee for governor of Alabama. “The last thing the government has any business doing is peering up the skirts and down the trousers of citizens who come down to the courthouse and pay good money for a marriage license, or who offer a loving home and dedicated parenthood to children who would otherwise grow up abandoned or orphaned.”
Nall is the only candidate who has so far chosen to openly appeal to Alabama’s gay and lesbian community. She plans to canvass for support at the Work Play Theatre — venue for this year’s SHOUT Gay & Lesbian Film Festival — this evening.
But is appealing to a small minority good political strategy? Nall is firm on that point. “The civil rights movement didn’t ask if black people were a majority — they asked whether or not the cause of racial equality was just, and they acted on the belief that it was,” she says. “When you’re on the right side, the only strategy that makes sense is to fight until you win through. White Alabamans eventually got right on racial equality. They’ll eventually get right on gay marriage as well — and my job is to help them along.” at Birmingham’s first GLBT film festival. Where were the other gubernatorial candidates?
- From Nall’s platform:
I am often asked the following questions with regard to gay rights, gay marriage and hate crime laws.
1. Do you support Gay Rights?
Yes, I do. Liberty is one of those things you cannot have if you are not willing to let others have it as well. This is an equal rights issue.
2. Do you support the rights of gay people to marry?
Yes, I do. Nothing in the Constitution gives the government the power to define marriage or to say who can marry and who cannot. Marriage license were not a requirement until after the end of slavery and were only implemented to prevent interracial marriage. I do not want the government in my bedroom and I do not want the government in your bedroom. If I let them into yours then eventually they will come into mine. If elected Governor of Alabama I will veto any ban on gay marriage.
I also support the right of gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. When I say I’m pro-family I mean I’m pro-family for everyone, unlike all of my opponents — one of which openly advocates the death penalty for having a family that doesn’t look like his. The last thing the government has any business doing is peering up the skirts and down the trousers of citizens who come down to the courthouse and pay good money for a marriage license, or who offer a loving home and dedicated parenthood to children who would otherwise grow up abandoned or orphaned.
- Unlike her Democratic competition, Nall is actively seeking and receiving support from the left-leaning Alabama gay community.
As I used to be active in one myself, I know how the major parties deal with major political opposition within their own ranks: Money talks and bullshit walks. If I was a Democrat who supports gay rights, I’d be looking at one of two options right now. The first is leaving the Democratic Party altogether. As the GOP would not be an option for me, I’d be looking at third-party alternatives. I’d recommend those of you who feel this way should check into Outright Libertarians.
Alternately, many of you may be wishing to send a one-time message to your political leadership. The Nall campaign in Alabama provides exactly that opportunity without harming any traditional Democratic causes. Actually, Nall is out-Democrating the Democrats in this race:
- Nall’s taken a stance in favor of undocumented workers, while the other four candidates are on the closed-border side of the argument.
- Nall has been the one pushing medical marijuana legislation in the state — often fighting Democrats along the way.
- Democrats control both houses in the state legislature. Concerning their support of the gay marriage amendment in Alabama, they were once described as “tripping over one another” in the mad rush to be the first to speak out against gay rights.
- Nall has taken a strong stance against corporatism/corporate welfare in the state. Contrast this to the relationship Seigelman allegedly has with Richard Scrushy.
- Nall is the only candidate actively opposed to the War in Iraq and has pledged to do what she can to see that Alabama National Guard troops come home as soon as possible.
The Democratic candidates are running as Republicans in Alabama. Of the four main candidates, the only one who would govern any differently is Roy Moore. Right now, Moore’s polling numbers look incredibly bad — even to a seasoned Libertarian.
If Nall gets on the ballot (Alabama has the toughest of ballot access laws), there seems to be two possible outcomes: She’ll either win (not so likely without a lot of money behind her) or force the Democratic candidates to start acting like Democrats (much more likely — she’s even scheduled for Alan Colmes tomorrow night). I can think of no better place to spend Democratic protest dollars at this moment.
If anyone ever understood Alabama politics, it was George Wallace. His quip about there not being a “dime’s worth of difference” between the two parties could not ring more true than in Alabama today. But Democratic dollars could make all the difference in the world. Why not send that message to the DNC today?
Update by SV: LGBT definition.
[Disclaimer: While Stephen Gordon is a supporter of the Nall for Governor campaign and has received extremely limited payment in association with his work for them. This post is neither paid for nor endorsed by the candidate.]