This weekend the National Conference of Stonewall Democrats was held here in Pittsburgh, PA. For anyone who doesnt know, the Stonewall Democrats are a group of gay Democrats who named themselves after the notorious uprising at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, where gay men, tired of being busted for being who they are, fought back as the NYPD tried to arrest them
again. It marked the beginning of gay pride and helped millions of gay men and women begin to assert their place in society. The keynote speaker for the event was DNC Chairman, Howard Dean. I attended the meeting, as press for the popular progressive website www.OpEdNews.com, still thinking, as I have since Feb. 2003, that Howard Dean hangs the moon. I liked Deans speech. I like all of his speeches. He is an orator in whom, I think, the founding fathers would be proud.
Gov. Dean loudly chastised Republicans for wanting to amend the constitution of the United States by banning gay marriage thereby taking rights away from the people instead of giving them rights as the founders intended. He accused them of hypocritically saying they are for family values, when they are actually discriminating against so many of our countrys families. He explained the Table to Ticket initiative that helps minorities in all 50 states run for office and theyve had some real success there even in red states like Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma.
He ended by asking the gay community to do a few things. Come out. Reach out to the straight community. Knock on doors in their neighborhoods. Engage in discussions in their workplaces, their churches, their clubs, etc. All-in-all I thought it was a good showing.
After the meeting, I joined a conversation with some gentlemen who have been affiliated with the DNC and had traveled from DC to attend the conference and hopefully speak with the Governor. They were very critical of him and the DNCs handling of the gay community and its core issues. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that Deans handlers have some problems. Allowing him to appear on the Christian Broadcasting Network last month where he stated that Democrats are against gay marriage, being one egregious example. Dean is planning another visit to the CBN as well so it doesnt sound as though they have heard the outcry on this. And I have to wonder
The guys I spoke to believe and I agree that its just another example of the Democrats trying to win by not making waves. Or what I like to call
DEFENSIVE POLITICS. Some more examples of this are Nancy Pelosis promising that the Dems. would not try to impeach Bush if they gain the majority, Hillary refusing to come out against the war, and, maybe its just me, but I havent seen one iota of real opposition to any of Bushs insidious judicial nominees. No waves being made there, thats for sure. Not by the Democrats. No sireee.
What happened to Gov. Deans belief that you must tell the truth to power? Has he forgotten that he became a serious contender for the 2004 presidential election by saying out loud and in public that he was against the war? And why in heavens name havent the Democrats figured out that we want our legislators to be Leaders not self-centered, say-anything-to-get-elected, mealy-mouthed shrinking violets who pander to conservatives because they lack the courage of their convictions?
What I was hearing was that a lot of the members of the gay community feel theyve already done all the things that Dean has asked them to do. They have come out and they have talked to their families and co-workers and have reached out to their communities. The Pittsburgh Pirates were the largest sponsor of this weekends event and that is good news for gays and straights alike. Theyre not afraid to show solidarity with gays even if it does make them unpopular with this countrys conservatives and believe you me, this team cannot afford to lose any more fans.
The GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered) community has dealt with discrimination throughout the ages. They are the only minority that can be hated, persecuted and ostracized by their own families. They want leadership. They want a party that will stand up and fight against ballot initiatives that limit their rights. A party that will bridge the gap between them and the rest of the country. But when youre playing Defensive Politics you dont stick your neck out, especially for the group that your enemy is demonizing. I just have one question for the Democratic Party. Hows that been working for you?
I was thrilled when the DNC elected Howard Dean to be their chairman. I thought that it was a much better job for him than President. I thought he would inject some chutzpa into the party and get about the business of calling this administration what it is. A bunch of mean-spirited, crooked politicians who use hate and fear to control us while hiding behind the mantle of Christianity to cover up their actions which are in no way Christ-like. Whew. See how good that feels?
Howard Dean and the DNC are talking the talk but theyre not walking the walk and the Stonewall Democrats and a considerable number of their political colleagues arent feeling the love.
Ms. Burgwin's writings have appeared in Time, Newsweek, New York Magazine, Counterpunch, Alternet, Out2 and OpEdNews as well as several other online Op Ed sites. She is emerging from an year and a half hiatus due to grief over the 2004 election. She's ready for action.