Faced with $30K shortfall, National Stonewall Democrats goes ‘on hiatus’

Jerame Davis

National Stonewall Democrats is officially “on hiatus,” Executive Director Jerame Davis said in an exclusive interview with Dallas Voice on Monday.

The organization suspended operations on Jan. 1 but plans a relaunch for 2014.

“A lot of decisions are being made,” Davis told the Voice. “It’s likely our office will be closed for most of this year.”

Davis continues to work as an unpaid volunteer and will use the current office in Washington, D.C., at least through the end of the month.

Local and state chapters will continue to operate normally. Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez said his group’s regular monthly meeting is Jan 15. He described the Stonewall as very grassroots, operating from the bottom up, and said locally nothing will change.

In an email to members in early December, Davis warned the organization was facing a $30,000 deficit and might be forced to close if the money was not raised.

Davis became executive director of National Stonewall Democrats in December 2011 and inherited the organization’s debt.

“We’ve never raised enough money out of dues alone to keep the organization going,” he said.

—  David Taffet

With National Stonewall Democrats ‘struggling,’ Dallas chapter marks its 15th anniversary

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will celebrate its 15th anniversary tonight, during the group’s regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Ojeda’s on Maple Avenue.

“October marks the 15th anniversary when founders Bill Fry, Christy Kinsler, Gary Fitzsimmons & Michael Milliken gathered in a living room and created our organization,” the group wrote in an email Monday. “I don’t know if they realized where we would be today, but I sure am glad they did it! A warm hearted thank you to our founders, and especially to each and every one of you who has made SDD grow and develop into what we are today!”

Featured speakers at tonight’s meeting will be Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippens-Poole, who’ll talk about the new voter ID law, and County Democratic Party Executive Director Steve Tillery, who’ll talk about constitutional amendments on the November ballot. And yes, there will be cake!

Meanwhile, National Stonewall Democrats Michael Mitchell announced his resignation Monday after two years in the position. Mitchell, almost laid off earlier this year due to budget problems, told Metro Weekly the national group is “struggling” to raise money due to the bad economy and the fact that the mainstream Democratic Party has become so pro-LGBT. National Stonewall currently has only six of 15 board positions filled (including Erin Moore of Dallas), but the group’s leaders insist there’s still a place for the organization — largely because of the 70 local chapters like Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. From interim executive director Jerame Davis: “It doesn’t matter how good the DNC is on LGBT issues, if, for instance, the Democratic Party in Mississippi is horrible and they elect a Democrat to Congress that doesn’t care about the LGBT community. The work is never-ending, regardless of how things might look in Washington or however many successes we might have on a national level, there’s still a lot of work to be done in the various states.”

 

—  John Wright