Vote by half of Texas Stonewall members present falls short
Shannon Bailey remains president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus after a second effort by members to oust him failed Sunday, Sept. 30.
Bailey has come under fire since a June arrest on a charge of public lewdness for allegedly performing oral sex on another male suspect in White Rock Lake Park.
Jesse Garcia, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and a TSDC executive board member, said roughly half of 34 TSDC members in attendance voted in favor of the motion to oust Bailey during a meeting in Austin. According to TSDC’s bylaws, a two-thirds majority of those present was needed for the motion to be successful, Garcia said.
“Basically, the consensus is, let him have his day in court,” said Garcia, who voted against the motion. “It’s about his civil liberties.”
Previously, the executive board voted 5-4 in August to request Bailey’s resignation, but he refused.
Bailey, who didn’t attend the meeting, has said he will not comment until his case is resolved. His attorney, Robert Udashen, said Bailey appeared in court on the charge Monday, Oct. 1, but the matter was continued.
“We passed it until December just to give us more time to figure out what we want to do with the case and how we want to proceed,” said Udashen, who previously has said Bailey maintains his innocence.
Although Bailey’s opponents were unable to oust him, Garcia said the executive board loosened the president’s grip on the organization by rewriting bylaws during the same meeting. The changes give the board and lay members more power to call meetings and spell out that the board is to oversee dispersal of funds.
The changes were not a direct response to Bailey’s arrest but were prompted by a review of the bylaws that took place this summer in connection with the situation.
“The board has more strength,” Garcia said. “It’s not all just concentrated with the president. I don’t want to say we stripped his powers, but the presidency no longer pulls all the strings. The board has been empowered thanks to this new bylaw change.”
Bailey’s opponents within TSDC, the state’s largest LGBT political organization, say his arrest has caused internal strife, hurt TSDC’s reputation and perpetuated gay stereotypes.
Steve Whichard, president of Stonewall Democrats of Williamson County, said he believes Bailey should resign. However, Whichard said he will not continue to push the issue unless Bailey is convicted.
“At this point, there’s really nothing else we can do,” Whichard said. “We’ve tried twice and failed.”
Whichard also dismissed the argument that negative publicity about TSDC has been caused by those who are seeking Bailey’s ouster.
“The bad publicity was created by Shannon’s mistake and by not doing the adult thing and resigning,” Whichard said. “The ones of us who want him removed are more concerned with the organization, not the individual.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 5, 2007