Gay Democrats applaud change to DNC’s rules

Posted on 24 Aug 2006 at 8:54pm
By Tammye Nash Staff Writer

Massey says changes, District 22 congresstional race likely to be popular topics at state meeting Saturday

The Democratic National Committee has adopted new rules governing selection of delegates for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, drawing praise from gay Democrats nationally and in North Texas.

The new rules, adopted Aug. 19 at the committee’s annual meeting in Chicago, state Democratic parties will be required to increase the participation of LGBT individuals in their delegations to the national convention.

The committee approves a series of rules every four years to guide state parties in drafting and implementing delegate selection plans for the national convention. Rules adopted in previous years have encouraged state parties to reach out to LGBT delegates, but the draft adopted last weekend goes further by requiring presidential campaigns and state parties to take remedial action to correct past under-representation by LGBT individuals, according to a written statement released Monday by National Stonewall Democrats.

Jo Wyrick, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats, said the change begins “the process of correcting historic under-representation of LGBT Americans in party affairs.”

She said the national Stonewall organization expects state parties to use the rules to establish goals “that accurately reflect LGBT Americans within their delegations, and we expect the DNC to reject any proposed state party plan that does not meet this threshold.”

Wyrick said the rule will have an impact beyond increasing the number of LGBT delegates to the convention in two years. She said the rule change will also “move state parties into deeper partnerships with LGBT Democrats that will last well beyond the convention in 2008.”

“Although a majority of state parties are already partnering with our community, partiers that have been reluctant to engage our community will now be required to do so,” Wyrick said. “These partnerships will ultimately increase the voice of LGBT Democrats within important policy discussions and party affairs.”

Wyrick said National Stonewall Democrats has already begun working with state parties to implement the new rules and has committed to assist and train state parties over the next two years as they draft delegation selection goals.

She said her organization will also conduct a series of training sessions next year to give LGBT Democrats the resources they need to participate in the delegate selection process and in presidential campaigns.

Buck Massey, an officer with Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and a member of the Texas Democratic Party’s Executive Committee, said this week that the Texas state party was among those that was already “doing a pretty good job” of including LGBT people as convention delegates.

“Most states already have that kind of rule in place, and it hasn’t really been an issue in Texas in recent history,” Massey said. “But there are some state parties in the South who have not gone as far in that regard as we would have liked.”

Massey said that gay and lesbian representation in the Texas delegation “has been good. It’s never as good as we had hoped for, but that’s what life is. This is just one more step in the process of making sure that we are all there at the table. Much like having Stonewall added to the state executive committee, this is one more step in the evolutionary process.”

Massey said this week he expects the new rules to be a topic of discussion at the Texas Democratic Party’s Executive Committee meeting this weekend.

“I am sure we will be talking about how we are in compliance with the rules, making sure we have all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed, making sure that we are completely in compliance with the DNC rules,” he said.

Massey, one of four GLBT people on the executive committee, said he expects this weekend’s meeting to include discussion of the state party’s recent court victory keep the Texas GOP from replacing Tom DeLay with another candidate on the ballot in Congressional District 22.

DeLay, who easily won the Republican Primary last March, later resigned his congressional seat. He has been indicted in Texas on money laundering charges and linked to ongoing investigations centering on former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

DeLay then said he had moved to Virginia, and the Texas Republican Party attempted to replace his name on the ballot with another candidate. Texas Democrats, however, challenged the move in court, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the Democrats.

As a result, DeLay had to formally withdraw his name from the ballot, and the GOP could not replace him with another candidate. State party leaders have voted to support the write-in candidacy of Dr. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, a dermatologist serving her third term on the Houston City Council. Sugarland Mayor David Wallace and Houston businessman Tim Turner are also running as Republican write-in candidates.

Massey said Texas Democrats believe the court ruling gives Democratic candidate Nick Lampson a tremendous advantage in the race, and that Lampson, a five-term congressman who lost his seat in the U.S. House after Republican-lead redistricting in 2004, will be a real friend to the LGBT community.

“The difference between the two is just immense,” Massey said of Lampson and DeLay. “Tom DeLay has been a sworn enemy of the LGBT community on every possible issue.

“Nick Lampson consistently voted the interests of not just the LGBT community but the Democratic community the people,” Massey added.

“He is a candidate any gay or lesbian in District 22 can be proud to vote for.”

E-mail nash@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 25, 2006.

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