I don't pretend to understand what the DNC does or how it does it. But I've known Donald, the author of the letter below, for years, and I known his partner Paul Yandura for just as long. I trust both of them, personally and politically, so if they have a gripe, I think it's worth airing. And if the DNC has a response, I'm happy to publish that as well.
This is a letter to be published in Friday's Washington Blade (one of the two local gay publications in DC):
DNC Not Ready to Make Nice
After attending the recent Democratic National Committee LGBT Caucus meeting, it reaffirmed for me my reasons for standing up to Gov. Dean’s reluctance to treating our community with dignity and respect, an action for which I was fired. I claim that firing as a badge of honor.
Gov. Dean barely addressed the LGBT caucus with only 5 minutes worth of comments, and no questions from the floor. And unfortunately, his talking points had shifted from the comprehensive plan to address the anti-LGBT state ballot measures offered last year to throwing only “a little bit of money” into the states at the end of the fight. So much for the strategy to combat them that he touted in the LGBT press prior to the elections. A recent survey shows that the DNC gave states less than $20,000 in-total, despite having raised almost $2 million from the LGBT community in 2006. But we will never know the exact amount given to state groups since the DNC is embarrassed to officially release the numbers.
The most shocking revelation during the meeting was that Gov. Dean misspoke by claiming that there were no 2006 LGBT exit-polling numbers, stating that “people won’t admit that they are gay” to pollsters while walking out of the voting booth. However, as many of us know, there are indeed exit polls reporting that approximately 80% of LGBT voters voted Democratic. Obviously, either his staff still does not have access to brief him on our issues, or he is not listening. I wonder if he would address any other constituency group, not knowing this basic information.
At the meeting, LGBT finance staff and key fundraisers did sit at the Caucus table, as before, but what is different is that lately we seem to be treated solely as an ATM for the party, with our civil rights seeming an afterthought or burden. After Gov. Dean became Chair of the DNC, two LGBT political positions were abolished, and two finance positions were added, for a total now of four positions in Finance and zero in Political. Given the meeting, it’s obvious that we continue to be invited to the table, pay for the meal, but we are not allowed to eat.
I have great faith in the community to continue to ask questions, and hold our party accountable. That is the only way real progress can be made.
Editors Note: Donald Hitchcock is the former Director of the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council of the Democratic National Committee