WATCH: Chelsea Clinton discusses LGBT rights

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetThe Democratic National Convention ended last Thursday night with Hillary Clinton’s gay-inclusive speech, but that’s not the end of the discussion of how gay rights will figure into the election. Logo TV reporter Raymond Braun sits down with former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton to discuss her input into her parents’ evolution on gay rights. It’s just seven minutes, so settle in for some insight by clicking here. Or check it out below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PHOTOS: Tarrant County DNC watch party

Photos from the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats party watching Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech on Thursday, July 28 at Tommy’s on Camp Bowie.

—  David Taffet

Sheriff Lupe Valdez addresses convention

LupeDallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez spoke at the Democratic National Convention at about 8 p.m. and preceded family members of fallen police officers.

She told her story: youngest of eight children. When she told her father she was going into law enforcement, he was mad at her because he had been beaten by police.

She talked about losing five officers in Dallas.

“I’ve been trying to make some sort of sense out of it,” she said.

She said the only way to serve your community is to know your community.

While she wasn’t introduced as our lesbian sheriff, she mentioned her girlfriend in the speech. After the Dallas police murders, she and her girlfriend were at a restaurant. When she went to pay the bill, she said four other tables in the restaurant had offered to pay their bill, even though she knew no one there. But that’s been the reaction to the police shootings in Dallas.

At the end of the speech, she led the hall in a moment of silence and then introduced family members of fallen officers.

Watch the video here.




—  David Taffet

Bill Clinton wore a lovely blue pantsuit to the Democratic Convention


Bill Clinton (Photo (c) Washington Blade by Michael Key)

Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill wore a blue tie and white shirt under a dark blue pantsuit as he introduced his wife at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, July 26.

First gentleman watchers speculated that Mr. Clinton’s suit may have been designed by Hart, Schaffner Marx or Hickey Freeman and expected a buying frenzy when the actual label is revealed.

Mr. Clinton, who looks like he had his hair done for the convention, has been sitting in front row center of the balcony of the Philadelphia Convention Center, acting as the charming host, surrounded by Democratic dignitaries as his wife campaigns before addressing the convention on Thursday.

The presidential candidate’s husband spoke about Mrs. Clinton’s experience but apparently has had quite a career for himself as well. In addition to two terms as governor of Arkansas, he served as president of the United States. He also addressed the Democratic Convention in 1988 as the keynote speaker and is expected to be a trusted adviser in his wife’s administration.

Dallas Voice has sent a message to Dallas-based delegates to find out if the potential first gentleman can bake chocolate chip cookies.

Now, can we stop talking about who designed Mrs. Obama’s dress and concentrate on how she gave one of the best speeches ever delivered at a political convention?

—  David Taffet

More photos from Dallas delegates to the Democratic Convention

—  David Taffet

The politics of hope: Bill Clinton at the podium

Jones, Arnold WayneI’ve decided there are only two reasons anyone votes anymore. One if fear. And one is inspiration.

The fear side can be powerful. There’s a lot to fear in the big bad world — not the least of which, in my opinion, is the thought of a planet where Donald Trump is president. It’s a legitimate thing, fear: Part of the human fight-or-flight instinct. It can protect us.

But then there are irrational fears — fears that prey on us with suspicion, exaggeration, even falsehoods. You’re more likely as an American in America to be killed by an asteroid than by an ISIS attack. Not all illegal immigrants are Mexican, or even “sneak” over the border. No one wants to ban all handguns. Christianity it not, I assure you, “under attack.”

But after watching the entirety of the Republican National Convention last week, I saw day after day or fear, trotted out like the inevitable result of progressive politics. Many of the claims were all but fact-free. And night after night after night, the reason was Hillary Clinton. Chris Christie, who should know better, even held a kangaroo court in which he had the assembled “convict” Hillary based on his “evidence” that smacked of the Salem Witch Trials; all that was missing was a burning effigy. (They haven’t been able to get legitimate law enforcement to make a charge stick, so that’s all that’s left.) I found it all itchily distasteful. And not because I’m a Democrat (in presidential politics, I have voted for two Republicans, three Dems and three independents) or even a great Hillary supporter. But because I’m an American. Hatred isn’t my go-to. Ah well. That’s politics.

The RNC actually told media that days 1 and 2 of the convention would be anti-Hillary, and the last two days pro-Trump. That never really materialized. Even Trump’s acceptance speech — for all its narcissistic bloviating — could not help but attack his opponent’s character, record, judgment. (This from a man on four bankruptcies and three marriages; Hillary has had the same spouse for 40 years.)

But political conventions only come around every four years; it’s easy to forget the last one, except for moments (Clint Eastwood talking to a chair, “poor George” Bush, born “with a silver foot in his mouth”). Maybe that’s always the tone, even for both parties.

And then comes the revelation that it’s not the way it has to be.

I’ve never voted for any Clinton — not in a primary, not in a general. Never campaigned for one, nor donated money to one. (It’s one reason the Bernie or Bust folks irritate me — who really wants to “bust” the presidency out of ego?) But even so, I have never denied Bill Clinton’s power as a public speaker — how could you? And last night, when I saw his address, I was reminded not just why he’s a great communicator, but why politics can be about inspiring people. About encouraging us with hope, not fear.

The structure was a master class of rhetoric. He mentioned nine states by name, each time eliciting hoots from the assembled delegates, but he smoothly soldiered on with his encomium. (Side note: Last week, Trump released a campaign ad that said only that his speech was 75 minutes, that he got 24 minutes of applause, and then did the math — cuz, ya know, his supporters… — that one-third of the speech was applause. How sad that he gains self worth from that.) Bill painted pictures with words, vividly. He made Hillary seem more human (and humane) than any ad has ever done.

But best of all, he drew a sharp contrast with the Republicans — not just in his portrait of Hillary, who was demonized to the point of caricature by the GOP, but in his style of speech and his off-handed emphasis on the value of public service in a candidacy. Now, I understand “political speech” and selected emphasis. But I can’t recall a single speaker at the RNC who said anything about trump that wasn’t wholly focused on either “he knows how to run a business/create jobs” or “he’s nicer in private than he seems.” I mean that quite literally. What was I missing from the GOP convention? Not just specifics, but any portrayal of Trump as someone who has put others first in his life. Things he’s accomplished that didn’t have a dollar sign in front of them.

Not so with the Hillary who Bill shared. His version was caring, outward-thinking, diligent, public-minded. He elevated rather than tore down. Every day of the RNC show was Bash Hillary Day. But Trump’s name has barely been mentioned these past two days.

It doesn’t have to be. Bill made the case not for voting against someone, but why supporting their candidate is good for America. Trump was never going to get my vote. I didn’t have to be persuaded to support the opposition, whoever that opposition was. But I’ve gotta say, last night Bill convinced me to cast my first vote for a Clinton — and not as a protest, or a compromise, but because I was swayed that she has what it takes to lead. I’ve never used the hasgtag #ImWithHer, but I do now — and with full gusto.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

History is made: DNC officially nominates Hillary Clinton for president


Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton

The Democratic National Convention has just made history, nominating former First Lady, former U.S. Sen. and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president of the United States of America. Fifteen votes from South Dakota put her over the top.

Clinton is the first woman to be nominated for president by a major political party.

The count ended with Sen. Bernie Sanders moving to suspend the rules and nominate Hillary Clinton by acclamation as the Democratic candidate for president. Final delegate count (not counting super delegates) is  Clinton, 2,842; Sanders, 1,865, with 56 delegates not voting. Go here to see how the final delegate count played out.

—  Tammye Nash

Video of protests outside the DNC

Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade is one of several LGBT reporters in Philadelphia this week covering the Democratic National Convention. Their coverage is provided courtesy of the National Gay Media Association to NGMA members. Below are two videos Lavers filmed on Monday, July 25, the first day of the convention.

Bernie Sanders supporters on Monday protested outside the Wells Fargo Center in which the Democratic National Convention is taking place.

Thousands of protesters on Monday marched from Philadelphia City Hall to the site of the Democratic National Convention, with Bernie Sanders supporters prominent among them.

—  Tammye Nash

Gay DNC officials’ emails part of massive WikiLeaks release


Sean Meloy and Earl Fowlkes Jr. (Michael Key/Washington Blade)

Treasurer Andy Tobias contacted by Sanders campaign manager


LOU CHIBBARO JR. | Washington Blade
Courtesy of National Gay Media Association



Andy Tobias

Dozens of email messages sent and received by at least four openly gay officials with the Democratic National Committee were among more than 19,000 private DNC email messages released last Friday, July 22, by the cyber protest group WikiLeaks.

The massive leak included numerous emails showing that high-level DNC officials appeared to be helping Hillary Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primaries earlier this year.

None of the emails reviewed by the Washington Blade associated with the gay officials — DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias, DNC LGBT Engagement Director Sean Meloy, DNC National Finance Committee Chairman Henry Munoz, and DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes — were linked to the alleged efforts to undermine the Sanders campaign.

But the leaked emails appearing to show that other high-level DNC staffers were helping Clinton at the expense of Sanders led to the resignation on Sunday, July 24, of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The revelations also triggered expressions of outrage among many of Sanders’ supporters and threatened to disrupt plans by Democrats for a show of party unity at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Controversy surrounding the leaked emails was heightened over the weekend when Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, cited experts in the field of computer hacking who said the DNC’s servers were breached by Russian intelligence agencies. Mook went further by arguing that the Russian government arranged for the release of the emails on the eve of the Democratic convention to embarrass Clinton and to support Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The Trump campaign immediately denounced that claim, calling it baseless and accusing the Clinton campaign of attempting to “smear” Trump.

Most of the emails linked to Tobias, Meloy, Munoz and Fowlkes, who also serves as president of D.C.’s Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, addressed routine efforts to raise money for the Democrats and reach out to LGBT voters and party donors.

However, one of the emails received by Tobias from Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, appeared to create a stir among other DNC officials to whom the email was forwarded.

“Andy — I want to share something with you that is probably going to make you angry, but then I want to give you an opportunity to do something about it,” Weaver told Tobias in his May 3, 2016 email.

Weaver pointed to a story published by Politico that claimed most of the money raised by a political fund created by the Clinton campaign called the Hillary Victory Fund, which was intended to raise money for state Democratic Party organizations for the November general election, was being used to support Clinton’s primary campaign against Sanders.

“Here’s your chance to send a message about our distaste for big-money in politics,” Weaver told Tobias in the email. “Sign our petition calling on the Clinton campaign to stop bending campaign finance rules to their breaking point, and immediately transfer all the money allowable to the state parties participating in the Hillary Victory Fund,” Weaver wrote.

No email could be found in the collection of emails released by WikiLeaks consisting of a response by Tobias to Weaver. But at least one email from Tobias to three other DNC officials asks whether the DNC finance division was aware of Weaver’s allegations.

“Seems awfully unfair and inaccurate,” Tobias said in his email to the other officials.

“This is beyond inaccurate,” said Amy Dacey, the DNC’s chief executive officer, in her reply to Tobias. “I think we need a more aggressive approach to push back on what is just total MISINFORMATION,” she wrote. “Can we have an internal discussion on what needs to happen here? We can’t let this continue on.”

A follow-up email on Dacey’s call for addressing the matter couldn’t immediately be found.

Tobias’ reputation as a dedicated fundraiser for the DNC surfaced in a separate email from him on May 18, 2016, in which he asks Munoz and DNC supporter Stephen Bittel to consider not attending a scheduled June 8 DNC fundraising dinner in Manhattan. President Obama was the guest of honor at the event, which was held at a private home.

“I haven’t seen POTUS [the president] in several months and so was planning to go to the June 8 dinner, right up the street from me,” Tobias said in his email. “[B]ut happily it’s going to be literally sold out so each non-paying attendee costs us ten grand,” he said. “So I’m going to skip it — Ka-Ching! — and invite you to do the same if you think that makes sense. Big hugs all around.”

In separate emails, Meloy addressed a concern raised by Munoz about whether the DNC and Meloy’s LGBT Engagement division were reaching out to LGBT young people and young people in general to ensure that they vote for the Democratic presidential nominee and other Democratic candidates in the states in the November general election.

In his response, Meloy pointed to the DNC’s Millennial Engagement Plan, which he said he would forward to those raising the issue of reaching out to young voters.

“I’m also of the belief that LGBT issues could help bring in some of the voters they are concerned about losing, considering millennials are very strong allies and refuse to support anti-LGBT candidates,” Meloy said in his reply.

A WikiLeaks website page devoted to the leaked DNC emails includes a search box that allows viewers of the site to enter a name to determine whether or how many emails were received or sent by that person. Upon entering the names of the four gay DNC officials, the site reveals the officials received, sent, or were the subject of these numbers of emails: Andy Tobias, 271; Sean Meloy, 121; Henry Munoz, 85; Earl Fowlkes, 38.

The four, who were expected to attend the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

In a statement on its site, WikiLeaks says most of the 19,252 leaked DNC emails came from the accounts of seven key DNC figures, one of whom is identified as the DNC’s Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer.

The DNC website says Comer also serves as the DNC’s LGBT finance director.

—  Tammye Nash

Democrats ratify most pro-LGBT platform ever


Delegates to the Democratic National Convention meet at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia on Monday, July 25. (Michael Key/Washington Blade)

‘It says we’re welcome, we’re going to make life better’


CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Courtesy of National Gay Media Association


PHILADELPHIA — Democrats ratified a party platform late Monday, July 25, that is being called the most LGBT-inclusive in history and a unifying document after a bitter primary.

As convention chair Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, presided, delegates at the Democratic National Convention approved the platform by voice vote. Although loud “nays” were heard, the overwhelming “yays” in favor of the platform carried the day.

Jessica Frisco, a Manhattan-based delegate pledged to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said having LGBT inclusion in the Democratic Party “has always been really important to me.”

“Not that it’s become less of a priority, but I think the Democrats have always been pretty progressive on the issue, at least in recent years, and you know, it’s been Democrats that have been supporting that type of legislation in contrast to Republicans,” she said. “I guess I wasn’t really surprised to see that that was a big part of the platform and I wouldn’t be surprised to know that everyone in the Democratic Party supports that.”

The 55-page document has a specific LGBT plank titled “Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights” and includes LGBT references in planks throughout the document.

The LGBT plank endorses LGBT comprehensive non-discrimination legislation (although it doesn’t explicitly address the Equality Act by name), condemns violence against transgender people, endorses the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage and repudiates state laws seeking to undermine LGBT rights.

“Democrats applaud last year’s decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBT people — like other Americans — have the right to marry the person they love,” the platform says. “But there is still much work to be done. LGBT kids continue to be bullied at school, restaurants can refuse to serve transgender people and same-sex couples are at risk of being evicted from their homes. That is unacceptable and must change.”

In contrast, the platform adopted last week at the Republican National Convention seeks to reverse the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, indicates supports for widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy and supports state anti-trans bathroom laws.

Matt Hughes, a 25-year-old delegate from Chapel Hill, N.C., pledged to Hillary Clinton, said the LGBT inclusion is important to him both as a Democrat and a gay man.

“For me as a Democrat, it’s important, but also as a gay man that we have these ideals in our party’s platform about non-discrimination in terms of employment and transgender rights and really everything,” Hughes said, “especially when you compare and contrast it to the Republican Party platform that was passed last week, which is definitely the most anti-LGBT platform that the Republican Party has ever put forward.”

Hughes said he helped draft a North Carolina platform that included similar language, which he said is important because of the recently enacted House Bill 2 in the state. That law bars pro-LGBT city ordinances and prohibits transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity.

“That language says to me that for the second time in four years, that on LGBT issues, North Carolina is on the wrong side of not just fairness and equality, but also just the wrong side of history,” Hughes said. “And I think that the Democrats have always stood up for the marginalized and oppressed in our communities, and so having language that is so strongly in favor of rights for our transgender brothers, I think, is very important.”

Other language throughout the document recognizes immigration detention for LGBT people who sought refuge in the United States “can be unacceptably dangerous.” Referencing the recent end to the ban on transgender military service and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, the platform says the U.S. military is stronger with people of different “sexual orientations and gender identities.”

Delegates ratified the platform after the full platform committee reviewed and made changes to the document during a meeting earlier this month in Orlando, Fla.

During the meeting, the committee enhanced the LGBT language further by adding a plank insisting LGBT rights should be part of U.S. foreign policy. The language was based on Clinton’s 2011 speech in Geneva where she declared, “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

Mara Keisling, a D.C.-based transgender advocate and member of the platform committee, called the platform “the most progressive platform on LGBT and trans rights in the history of the United States.”

“It says we’re welcome; it says we’re going to make life better to make lots of different marginalized people whether it’s supporting the people of Puerto Rico, people with disabilities or people facing environment racism or LGBT people,” Keisling said. “We’re going to work together and we’re going to make things better for everybody.”

Although Keisling acknowledged the platform is “symbolic,” she said that symbolism can be a “big thing” to leverage change.

“It’s just symbolic, but it gives us a hook, it again starts getting more and more people thinking about transgender and LGBT people and thinking about do they support or do they not support us, and it gets some of our issues in front of people who maybe wouldn’t have seen it before,” Keisling said.

In 2012, the platform for the first time endorsed marriage equality in addition to other language rejecting the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act and endorsing a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but the 2016 document exceeds those milestones.

Marveling at the Democratic Party’s progression on LGBT inclusion in its platforms was Diego Sanchez, a D.C.-based transgender advocate in attendance at the convention and in 2008 the first openly transgender member of the platform committee. He wasn’t a member in 2016.

“The progress has been tremendous,” Sanchez said. “In 2008, we didn’t have the word marriage by design. We were responsible for three things: Bringing in the definition of same-sex couples as families, to have gender identity included in non-discrimination and to include HIV as a domestic policy priority. We’ve come so far from that place of using language that is cautious to where we can boldly be inclusive of the entire community.”

But one proposed change that didn’t make it into the Democratic platform was changing the LGBT acronym throughout the document to LGBTQ to explicitly include people who identify as queer.

During the platform committee meeting, David Braun, a Sanders appointee from Oakland, Calif., sought the change, which platform committee chair and former Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy said he would take as a request for a technical change to the document. It wasn’t immediately clear why the change wasn’t made.

Vincent Harding, a 28-year-old delegate from Austin, pledged to Clinton and chair of the Democratic Party in Travis County, said advanced LGBT-inclusive language is important because “we need to make sure we treat everyone equally.”

“The ability to love who we want to love is fundamental to all of us, so it is essential that it is part of the platform,” he said. “I don’t know what took so long, but I think things are changing and we have seen Republicans move a little bit, we’re going to keep pushing them a little bit and hopefully we won’t have the situation like we saw in Kentucky where people don’t want to grant gay marriages. Hopefully, that’ll be universal around the country and we’ll continue to move forward together.”

Chuck Rocha, a 47-year-old D.C. delegate pledged to Sanders, said the LGBT-inclusive language is “hugely important” to him because of his opposition to discrimination in all forms.

“I’m one of the only Latino delegates in the nation, the only one from D.C.,” Rocha said. “Discrimination doesn’t know a sex or a color, we shouldn’t discriminate for no reason, and everybody, no matter who they love, should be able to get married and live their lives the way they want to.”

—  Tammye Nash