Democratic National Committee chairman Dean recommits party to GLBT rights movement
Three Dallas residents attended the 2006 National Stonewall Democrats Convention in Pittsburgh in early June.
Buck Massey and Jesse Garcia, who are members of the National Stonewall Democrats board, and Paul Tran, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, attended the three-day event. Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and current chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was the keynote speaker at the conference, held on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.
Garcia, spokesman for Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said Dean committed the Democratic Party and himself to the GLBT rights movement. The conference was packed with leaders of GLBT groups, he said.
“Gov. Dean’s renewed commitment to our community left me energized and ready to go this election year,” Garcia said in a statement.
Dean told conference participants the Democratic Party would fight against discrimination and oppose the federal marriage amendment.
“We live in a time when this community and your families are the targets of mean-spirited attacks by Republicans who put their own and their party’s interests ahead of the national interest” Dean said, according to Garcia. “The Democrats will oppose that.”
Dean’s remarks were made in apparent response to his controversial appearance on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club show. During an interview on the show Dean said the Democratic Party platform from 2004 limits marriage to a union between a man and a woman.
National Stonewall Democrats later criticized Dean for the statement, saying he “incorrectly spoke.”
Dean noted the controversy in his speech.
“I want to start today by thanking you for standing with me,” Dean said. “Not just through the recent controversy over my CBN interview, but for standing with me as we have fought side by side for equal rights under the law for all Americans.”
After his speech, Dean met with the board members of the National Stonewall Democrats. Board members asked him to appoint a GLBT point person at the Democratic National Committee, to fund GLBT political action committees in key states and to include the words bisexual and transgender in the Democratic National Committee’s Gay and Lesbian Caucus name.
Garcia said Dean was receptive to some of the demands.
“Gov. Dean gave us some positive remarks regarding the list of deliverables we presented to him,” Garcia said. “One some of the issues, he would have to work on because of legalities of funding PACs and other items that include state party leadership.”
Dean said he would be able to actimmediately on the request for a GLBT desk in the organization, according to Garcia.
Earlier in the year, Dean told gay Democrats he was replacing the Democratic National Committee’s political desk system, which included the GLBT desk, with a new system.
The conference, which attracted about 250 participants, featured seminars on electoral programs, fundraising and coalition building.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 09, 2006.