Democrats ratify most pro-LGBT platform ever

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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

Craig McCartney goes to Philly … and invites Ted Cruz for pound cake

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Craig McCartney: Well, Let Me Say This About That

Dallas’ own Craig McCartney has already built up a following with his YouTube channel, “Well, Let Me Say This About That.” Now He’s getting ready to take his show on the road, heading to Philadelphia where he will be vlogging (that’s video blogging, in case you didn’t know) from the Democratic National Convention.

But before he heads to Philly, Craig had a couple of things to say about the just-finished Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

—  Tammye Nash

Before ‘Philadelphia:’ Landmark TV movie ‘An Early Frost’ marks 30th anniversary

An Early FrostFirst airing 30 years ago this month, the made-for-television movie An Early Frost — a film about a young, closeted gay lawyer diagnosed with AIDS — was the first film ever to address the then-controversial subject matter. At the time, little was known about the disease and the virus which causes it. Gay men dying of AIDS were all too often considered little more than statistics. Many of those afflicted were outcast from their friends and families. The provocative landmark film dared to give the mysterious and frightening “gay” disease a human face.

As a made-for-television movie, the production faced certain challenges. For example, the film required the support of sponsors, many of whom did not want their products associated with the topic. And broadcasting the movie on NBC, a commercial rather than cable network, meant that network censors would scrutinize its content. When it aired, 34 million people watched the film, earning it the night’s no. 1 spot. More viewers watched An Early Frost than that evening’s installment of ABC’s Monday Night Football.

Gay Hollywood couple Ron Cowen and Dan Lipman, men who would later executive produce the NBC television series Sisters and the Showtime series Queer as Folk, wrote the teleplay. Censors demanded that they balance their presentation, meaning essentially that the movie should not condone homosexuality. It was a time when most gay characters in television and movies had been limited to comedic supporting roles. Cowen and Lipman rewrote the teleplay at least 13 times, carefully negotiating revisions with censors with every round, to preserve as much of their story as possible.

It was nominated for 14 Emmys, winning four, including for Lipman and Cowen’s teleplay. The film enlightened and educated the viewing community both to AIDS and to homosexuality. An Early Frost blazed a much-needed trail for similarly-themed movies which followed including 1990’s Longtime Companion and 1993’s Philadelphia. As the writers demanded, the movie ends with hopeful symbolism. Rather than dying, the main character, with his embracing parents watching, rides off into the night in a taxi cab.

 — Scott Huffman

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Suspect jailed in Philadelphia trans woman’s murder

Keishia Jenkins

Keisha Jenkins

One man is in jail and three others are being sought by police in connection with the murder last week of trans woman Keisha Jenkins in Philadelphia, according to NBC 10 in Philly.

Philly police are saying that Pedro Redding is one part of a neighborhood gang that has been robbing people in the Hunting Park neighborhood, where Jenkins was shot to death. Police say that Jenkins was a victim of convenience and not targeted for being transgender, so they are not investigating her death as a hate crime.

Police said that Jenkins had just been dropped off on Winghocking Street, near 13th Street, at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, when she was attacked by a gang of several men who began beating her. When she fell to the ground, one of the men pulled a gun and shot her twice in the back.

A judge this morning (Monday, Oct. 12) denied bail for Redding, 24, who has a lengthy criminal history, including having pled guilty to aggravated assault and weapons charges in 2014.

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Pedro Redding

Jenkins, 22, is believed to have been the 21st trans woman murdered this year in the U.S. She is the second trans woman murdered this year in Philadelphia; Londyn Chanel was murdered May 18 by her roommate.

Thanks to Houston trans activist Monica Roberts and her TransGriot blog where we find this information.

—  Tammye Nash

Scenes from Philadelphia: LGBT Media Journalists Convening 2015: Friday and Saturday

Thanks to the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Foundation, I got to spend the weekend of March 13-15 in Philadelphia, attending the 2015 LGBT Media Journalists Convening, a gathering of LGBT editors, publishers, reporters and bloggers working specifically in the LGBT media.

I learned a great deal, had my eyes opened to some new perspectives and got to meet, in person for a change, a number of professional journalists I have long admired. I also had the chance to wander around downtown Philadelphia, a city I had never visited before. I was fascinated by that beautiful city filled with history and with — at least in my experience there — friendly, helpful people.

I wanted to share a little of my experience by sharing a few of the many photos I took there. This bunch were taken on Friday and Saturday. Watch for photos from my Sunday sojourn, which will include photos of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

—  Tammye Nash

SHOW CANCELED: Win tix to Free Energy on Tuesday at the Loft

UPDATE: I just received word that due to the weather, tonight’s Free Energy show has been canceled.

The peeps at The Loft offered us two pairs of tickets to give away for Philadelphia indie rockers Free Energy show on Tuesday night. Yes, we know, random. But it turns out the band is super gay friendly and even recorded the song “Hope Child”, below, for the “It Gets Better Project.” We like when those straight allies go above and beyond.

But the giveaway is a bit different. Instead of e-mailing, you gotta tweet in. They just wanna try something new and personally, more of you need to get on the Twitter bandwagon. Just saying. First follow @dallasvoice and then tweet to enter by 3 p.m. Tuesday for your tickets. Good luck!

—  Rich Lopez

To Avoid $1 Million Legal Bill, Philadelphia Short Sells City-Owned Building to Boy Scouts of America

After failing to evict the Boy Scouts of America from a city-owned building it had been leasing to the anti-gay group for per year, the City of Philadelphia has reached an alternative agreement with the Scouts: Sell 'em the damn building they want so bad.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  admin

Afternoon View – Philadelphia City Hall

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Query • 10.01.10

Have you or your children been bullied in school?

………………………….

Gary Shephard — “Yes. The school I attended in rural Florida put me through hell in 9th and 10th grade. I wound up back in Philadelphia the next year; it was such a relief.”

Latisha McDaniel — “Yeah, I think everyone got picked on in school but the difference now is that there is no escape like when I was a kid. The bullying stayed in the school.”

John S. Shore — “I was more than bullied my entire life. All the kids, bus drivers, coaches and teachers allowed and watched me get beat up. Let’s teach karate and peace.”

Ron Allen —  “The problem is the attitude that ‘It’s just part of growing up.’ When parents, teachers, school officials, bus drivers and others in authority have that attitude that’s what drives our gay and lesbian children to view suicide as the only solution to a daily existence that has become intolerable to them. Yes, I was bullied unmercifully as a child and a teenager in a small town in the South.”

…………………………

Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?  E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens