Two years ago I attended the first Biennial Statewide Conference of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus in Austin, which among other things yielded this rather memorable gaffe by then-freshly elected out Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado. That same year, the conference also included a visit from Matt Foreman, a venerable gay-rights activist and former executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
The point is, it was a pretty solid lineup of speakers, and it looks like Texas Stonewall has come pretty close to duplicating it for this year’s second biennial event, set for March 5 and 6 in the capital. (On top of that, it looks like they’ve stepped it up from the DoubleTree on 15th to the Hilton Garden Inn downtown.)
Topping the list of speakers this year will be Arizona State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, who happens to be good friends with recovering Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Tuscon (Sinema’s interview with a local TV station the night of the shooting is above).
This year’s conference will also feature Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio; Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell; Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie; Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman; and National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Michael Mitchell.
The theme is “The New Political Landscape In Texas: Where Do We Go From Here?,” and the conference will focus on what went wrong in November 2010 and how Democrats in Texas can reverse the huge losses they suffered. And once again, people are encouraged to stay over for Equality Texas’ Lobby Day on Monday, March 7.
For conference information and to register online, go here (the discounted hotel rate expires Feb. 14). A full press release from TSDC President Daniel Graney is after the jump.
KYRSTEN SINEMA AND MARA KEISLING TO SPEAK AT TEXAS STONEWALL DEMOCRATS CONFERENCE
Openly LGBT Arizona State Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) and national transgender activist Mara Keisling will be the keynote speakers at the Second Biennial Statewide Conference of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus (TSDC) on March 5 and 6, 2011 at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Austin.
Sinema, who was elected in November to her first term as state senator from the 15th District of Arizona, is a friend of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and was interviewed by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC the night of the Tucson shootings on January 8. Before being elected to the state senate, Sinema served three terms in the Arizona House of Representatives. In 2006, she chaired Arizona Together, the statewide campaign that defeated Proposition 107, which would have banned the recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions in Arizona. In 2008, she also led the campaign against Proposition 102, a narrowed-down version of Proposition 107 and Proposition 102 was approved by 56% of Arizona voters on November 4, 2008. Sinema is openly bisexual and serves with four other openly LGBT legislators in Arizona.
Keisling is the founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, based in Washington, DC. A Pennsylvania native, she came to DC after co-chairing the Pennsylvania Gender Rights Coalition and seeing a need for a professional transgender voice in the nation’s capitol. A transgender-identified woman who also identifies as a parent, Keisling is known for her unique combination of expertise and humor and is a frequent speaker at events, colleges and government agencies and the recipient of numerous awards.
The TSDC is the officially recognized lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Caucus of the Texas Democratic Party and an affiliate organization of National Stonewall Democrats. The TSDC is comprised of nine (9) local Stonewall Democrats chapters in Austin, Dallas, Denton County, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Tarrant County.
According to Daniel Graney, TSDC President, LGBT Democrats come together at the Texas Democratic Convention in even-numbered years, but there is no time for training and networking opportunities because LGBT delegates are busy with convention business. “Having a conference in odd-numbered years enables LGBT Democrats and their straight allies to focus on LGBT issues by listening to motivational speakers and attending workshop training sessions and other networking opportunities”, said Graney.
The theme of this year’s Conference is “The New Political Landscape In Texas: Where Do We Go From Here?” Democrats in Texas suffered huge losses in the November 2010 election and attendees will assess what happened and develop strategies for reversing these losses in 2012.
Other speakers at the Conference include State Representative Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio), Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie, Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman and National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Michael Mitchell.
Awards will also be presented at the conference.
TSDC is encouraging its conference attendees to stay over after the conference for Lobby Day, which will be held at the State Capitol on Monday, March 7.
For conference information and to register online, visit www.texasstonewalldemocrats.org.