Utah Democratic Party elects openly gay chair

Jim Dabakis says he’ll try to get members of LDS church to join party

Associated Press

Jim Dabakis said his sexual orientation never came up during the nomination process.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Democratic Party has voted overwhelming in favor of electing as its new chairman an art dealer believed to be the first openly gay leader of a political party in the state.

Jim Dabakis, a co-founder of Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center, was elected Saturday during the party’s state convention in Salt Lake City.

Dabakis said his sexual orientation never came up during the nomination process.

“The whole gay thing just simply did not surface as an issue,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune. “People are broad-minded in Utah, and they want to know if you can do the job or not.”

Dabakis also said he will go out of his way to make members of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints feel comfortable in the Democratic Party. He said Democrats believe in the inclusion of all people, even if they have some differing opinions, including Mormons who primarily vote Republican.

“I want to speak directly to the LDS people in our state,” he said. “I want you LDS people to participate in our party. We want your spirit, we want your contributions, and we want to earn your votes. I will do whatever I can as chair to see that our big tent is comfortable to LDS people because it’s the right thing to do.”

Dabakis said many Mormons want a chance to be part of the “normal, moderate, reasonable” Democratic Party in light of splintering in the GOP between the tea party and more moderate Republicans.

“People are looking for real life answers to problems,” said Dabakis, who replaces retiring three-term party chairman Wayne Holland. “I believe to my core Democrats can win in Utah.”

The Utah Republican Party controls both houses of the state Legislature. It also holds all statewide offices and two of the three congressional seats.

Democratic Party delegates noted Dabakis has been a successful businessman and radio talk show host, and has been involved Utah politics for 30 years, the Deseret News reported.

“He will bring energy,” said Tim Chambless, with the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. “He’ll bring a greater connection with the business community.”

Convention delegates also elected small-business owner Brian Doughty, who is openly gay, to replace state Rep. Jackie Biskupski of Salt Lake City. Biskupski resigned after buying a house outside the district.

—  John Wright

Bexar County Democratic Party votes to remove anti-gay Chairman Dan Ramos from office

Dan Ramos

Nearly two months after he compared gay Democrats to “termites” and “the fuckin’ Nazi Party,” Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos was removed from office tonight. The party’s executive committee voted 104-5 to remove Ramos, in part for his anti-gay comments, and will select a new party chair later this month. The San Antonio News-Express reports:

Members leaped to their feet and cheered when they achieved a quorum sufficient to conduct the removal vote. None of the five members who cast nay votes spoke in Ramos’ defense. Some had concerns about the legality of the removal process.

A May 17 meeting was set to choose a new county chair.

On April 16, a trial committee heard evidence against Ramos and unanimously agreed Ramos was guilty of all 10 charges lodged against him, including allegations that he made bigoted comments about gays and failed to perform duties.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Dan Ramos hospitalized; Log Cabin convention under way at the Anatole

Dan Ramos

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos has been hospitalized just days before his likely removal from office for, among other things, comparing gay Democrats to “termites” and the “fuckin’ Nazi Party.” But no, it’s not for a brain tumor.

2. Don’t be surprised if you run into some well-known gay Republicans around town (or on Grindr) this weekend. The Log Cabin Republicans are holding their National Convention at the Hilton Anatole.

3. Have you emailed your state representative yet?

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Committee votes to oust Dan Ramos; Texas Senate to vote on anti-trans bill

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A special committee voted Saturday to recommend removing Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos from office, in part for his recent comments comparing gay Democrats to “termites” and “the fuckin’ Nazi Party.” The committee’s recommendation came after a three-hour trial, and a larger group will meet May 3 to vote on whether to accept the recommendation. Ramos didn’t attend the trial and says he plans to challenge the effort to remove him in court.

2. The Texas Senate is slated to vote today on a bill that’s apparently designed to bar transgender people from marrying people of the opposite sex. LGBT advocates are urging people to contact Senate Democrats and ask them to vote against SB 724. If all 12 Democrats in the Senate vote against consideration of the bill, it will die. For contact info for Senate Democrats, go here.

3. An LGBT tax demonstration is planned this evening outside the Dallas Main Post Office at Interstate 30 and Sylvan.The “Equal Taxes, Equal Rights” demonstration is one of many being organized around the country by GetEQUAL and Marriage Equality USA. From the Facebook page: “We will be hosting a peaceful demonstration to educate the public that while we pay the same taxes as our heterosexual counterparts, we do not have access to the same rights. Pro- Equality Activists will rally and hand out informational fliers from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. This event is designed to be a creative and fun way to engage the public on issues of equality!”

—  John Wright

SDEC members, donning gay ‘termite’ Pride stickers, call for Dan Ramos’ resignation

SDEC members wore rainbow triangles depicting a wood-eating termite in solidarity with the Stonewall Democrats during their meeting on Saturday. (SDEC member Erin Moore on Facebook)

Daniel Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, sends along word that the State Democratic Executive Committee unanimously approved a resolution Saturday censuring Dan Ramos and calling for him to resign. Ramos, of course, is the Bexar County Democratic Party chairman who recently compared Stonewall Democrats to “termites” and “the fuckin’ Nazi Party.” Graney reports:

The 110-member SDEC is the governing body of the State Democratic Party and consists of state party officers, representatives from each of the state’s 31 senate districts, statewide Democratic organizations and Texas members of the Democratic National Committee. Many of the SDEC members wore rainbow triangles depicting a wood-eating termite in solidarity with the Stonewall Democrats, which Ramos called “white termites who have infiltrated the party much like termites infiltrate your house.

After the resolution was adopted, SDEC members and guests leapt to their feet with sustained applause and cheers of approval.

As we noted last week, a group of Bexar County Democrats has voted to put Ramos on trial for rules violations. But Ramos remains defiant and says he’s seeking a restraining order against the group. For more on that, check out this report that aired on Fox 29 on Sunday night.

Graney’s press release also notes that also during Saturday’s meeting, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie announced that he doesn’t plan to seek another term in 2012.

—  John Wright

‘Democrat’ doesn’t always equal ‘gay-friendly’

Justin Nichols

Comments by Bexar County Democratic Party chair — and the response to them — shows LGBTs have to work across lines of race, party to make progress

JUSTIN NICHOLS | Special Contributor

Much has been said about the chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party, Dan Ramos, who last month made headlines with a rant in which he called LGBT people“Nazis” and “termites.”

But as things develop, we shouldn’t just write Ramos off as one county chairman gone crazy. Lessons can be learned here about politics, race and the fight for equality.

On April 5, the Bexar County Democratic Party precinct chairs held two meetings, both claiming to be official. The San Antonio Express-News reported that the larger meeting, from which Ramos was absent, had about 75 precinct chairs that voted to put Ramos on trial for rule violations.

The smaller meeting, which Ramos attended, was comprised almost exclusively of Hispanic precinct chairs who gave him, reportedly, a “hero’s welcome.”

In March, a local news survey showed that only 54 percent of viewers believed that Ramos should resign his post — a far cry from unanimous agreement.

This got me thinking: Is there a quiet but significant group of people who aren’t that upset with Ramos?

Ramos’ comments have become increasingly racially charged. Further, Ramos has maintained his position opposing same-sex marriage and gay adoption represents the true sentiments of Bexar County residents.

What if Ramos is right, and what if race is a bigger player than initially thought?

The Pew Hispanic Center, the leader in Latino research, reported that 56 percent of Hispanics oppose gay marriage, compared to only 42 percent of non-Hispanics; 43 percent of Hispanics believe that abortion should be legal compared to 60 percent of non-Hispanics.

These numbers are in stark contrast to a 2010 Gallup poll showing 56 percent and 87 percent of Democrats support, respectively, gay marriage and some form of legal abortion.

According to Pew, Hispanics tend to identify with the Democratic Party 66 percent of the time, double the rate by which they identify with the Republican Party. And, the Latino population is the fastest-growing minority in the country — seeing a 56 percent increase from 2000 to 2010 in Southern states.

What this means is that the fastest-growing population, which overwhelmingly supports the Democratic Party, significantly breaks with the Democratic platform on issues like gay rights and women’s right to choose.

So maybe, the conflict in Bexar County is just a sample of more intra-party disputes to come as the Latino populations grows and realizes more leadership positions in the Democratic Party.

To the people ready to accuse me of lumping all Latinos into one big bag: Cool down, I’m not.

I’m suggesting that, as the Hispanic community becomes larger and more politically active — flexing its muscle on issues like immigration and education — we shouldn’t assume that a “D” or “R” next to someone’s name automatically reveals their position on gay rights.

As a community, we need to be reaching out to all communities, and we should never assume that one group is automatically in our corner.

The leaders of Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio are right: Dan Ramos is a dinosaur who will soon be extinct.

But I caution against assuming that when dinosaurs die there will automatically be political oil to drill. The numbers show that is not guaranteed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Who’s the cutest member of Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats’ new executive board?

DSYD’s new executive board is made up of Communications Director Michael Maldonado, from left, Community Services Director Michael Tijerina, Membership Director Clint Thomson, Vice President Justin “JT” Williams, Treasurer Jason Wallace, Political Director Stewart Stimson, President Jared Pearce and Secretary Solomon Arreguin (not pictured). (Chance Browning/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats elected its 2011 officers Tuesday night and passed a resolution condemning Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos for his recent anti-gay remarks, according to a press release from the group.

The new DSYD officers are President Jared Pearce, Vice President J.T. Williams, Secretary Solomon Arreguin, Treasurer Jason Wallace, Political Director Stewart Stimson and Community Services Director Michael Tijerina.

According to the press release, the new DSYD executive board will focus on gathering support for endorsed candidates in the upcoming municipal elections and continuing the Light Up Oak Lawn campaign launched last year, which seeks to reduce crime in Oak Lawn with more street lighting.

“I’m thrilled to take on the role of president for this incredible organization,” Pearce said. “Everyone on the executive board is looking forward to the great things DSYD is going to accomplish in 2011.”

Pearce penned an open letter that he emailed to Ramos with DSYD’s unanimously approved resolution attached. View the resolution here and read Pearce’s letter after the jump.

—  John Wright

New path emerges for ousting anti-gay Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos

Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos’ now-infamous anti-gay remarks came, ironically, during an interview 10 days ago about legislation aimed at removing him from office. Of course, calls for Ramos to step down have probably grown ten-fold in the wake of his comments in the interview comparing gay Democrats to “termites” and the “fuckin’ Nazi Party.” Trouble is, there’s still no clear path for removing Ramos from office. Or is there? Daniel Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, forwarded a press release from Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio this morning explaining that it’s possible Ramos could be removed using Robert’s Rules of Order. The full press release is after the jump, but here’s the key passage:

Following Quintanilla’s remarks, Co-Chair Eduardo Juarez introduced D’mitri Kosub, who serves on the Rules Committee of the Bexar County Democratic Party. Although state election law and state party rules do not provide a clear path for removing Ramos from office, Kosub explained that there are provisions in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (10th edition) (RONR) for doing so. Under RONR, an officer can be removed for official misconduct and dereliction of duty under a process that includes formal notice to Ramos of the bases for his removal, and a formal hearing at which Ramos will be given the opportunity to counter the charges underlying his proposed removal.  Kosub announced that charges have already been preferred against Ramos and efforts are now being made to serve notice on him to appear for a formal hearing before a committee of the County Executive Committee (CEC) on April 16. This process must first be ratified by the CEC at its meeting on April 5.

—  John Wright

AUDIO: Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos on gay Democrats

Dan Ramos on Stonewall Democrats, homosexuality by gharman

Daniel Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, has been doing a great job keeping us posted on the Dan Ramos situation. If you’ll remember, Ramos is the chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party who recently compared gay Democrats to “termites” and the “fuckin’ Nazi Party.” Just today, the San Antonio Current posted some audio from the interview in which Ramos’ originally made his anti-gay comments — in response to Ramos’ allegations that the newspaper misrepresented what he said. Also, after the jump are several statements condemning Ramos forwarded by Graney over the last few days, including from state representatives, a Congressman, the San Antonio mayor and the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats.

—  John Wright

Ramos is a dinosaur at the brink of extinction

Co-chairs, Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio

It is a shame and painfully unfair that the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio are forced to respond to the continued discriminatory ravings and completely baseless accusations of Dan Ramos, the chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party.  Mr. Ramos unapologetically bellows bald and bigoted charges, singling out Stonewall Democrats as “termites” and as the “Nazi Party.” But he fails to provide even the most rudimentary factual support for any of his purported allegations of misconduct, because his accusations are simply false.

This is a crucial time for Texans: the Republican-controlled Texas legislature is busy passing the most anti-Latino and anti-employer immigration legislation in our era; restricting voters rights through onerous voter ID requirements and biased redistricting; raising medically unsound obstacles to the long-held reproductive freedoms of women; and cutting billions of dollars to public education, further weakening the Texas economy. And yet, in the face of these pressing challenges for Democrats, Mr. Ramos has chosen to worry about whether his “fishing buddy” is gay. He has, moreover, apparently decided to hurl inflammatory bigoted remarks (such as referring to gays as a “sinister movement” and comparing homosexuals to “children stricken with polio”) to deflect attention from his own utter incompetence and misconduct as party chair.

The good thing, if we can find a silver lining in these turbulent times for Bexar County Democrats, is that Mr. Ramos is a dinosaur at the brink of extinction. He is irrelevant to our times, will be removed as party chair, and will never again be elected to public office in this county or state — not because of his age or ailments, but because of his archaic and decrepit discriminatory views that are contrary to the definitive trend of justice in the entire Western Hemisphere. True leaders do not succumb to irrelevancy even after their physical death. Even as early as the 1970s, the iconic Mexican-American civil rights lion Cesar Chavez strongly and vocally supported lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights.

Following this icon’s visionary leadership is a swell of voices that will continue to increase, from all corners, condemning Mr. Ramos’ bigoted remarks and calling for his resignation. Indeed, the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio hope and demand that all fair-minded Bexar County Democrats, including our elected officials, party leaders, and voters strongly voice their opposition to Mr. Ramos’ views, demand his immediate resignation, and support his ouster.

—  admin