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Trans activist Hughes to run for Stein Club president

Jeri Hughes, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade

Jeri Hughes (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Veteran D.C. transgender activist Jeri Hughes this week announced she is a candidate for president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club in the group’s annual officers’ election scheduled for Nov. 18.

Hughes is the second candidate so far to enter the race for the president’s position. Stein Club Vice President for Legislative and Political Affairs Angela Peoples announced two weeks ago that she was running for president after incumbent President Martin Garcia said he would step down as president and run for the vice presidential seat held by Peoples.

If successful, Hughes would be the first transgender person to serve as the club’s president. Transgender and Democratic Party activist Julius Agars served as the club’s vice president two years ago.

Meanwhile, Stein Club Secretary Jimmie Luthuli announced this week that she is running for the position of vice president for administration. That post is being vacated by incumbent Vincent Paolo Villano, who isn’t running for re-election. As of this week, no one has announced candidacy for the Stein Club treasurer’s position, which is being vacated by gay Democratic activist Barrie Daneker, who also decided not to seek re-election.

“Everyone who knows me knows I’m a fighter who works hard to help the community,” Hughes said. “Whatever the issues are I will fight for them.”

She added, “This has very little to do with Martin and Angela. I want to give the existing members a choice.”

Garcia, Peoples and Vallano ran as a slate in the club’s election last year in opposition to the slate organized by then-Stein Club President Lateefah Williams. Their victory, which caught some of the club’s longtime members by surprise, resulted in a change in leadership and came about after an effort by the then challengers to sign up more than 50 new members supportive of them just days prior to the election.

At the time, Hughes criticized the new group for “stacking” the election, even though she acknowledged their actions were allowed under the club’s bylaws. The club has since changed its bylaws to require prospective members to join the club at least 30 days prior to a club election in order to be eligible to vote.

31
Oct
2013

Stein Club election heats up

Martin Garcia, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade, Stein Club

Martin Garcia, Stein Club’s current president, is now running for vice president. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gertrude Stein Democratic Club officials Martin Garcia and Angela Peoples issued a statement on Tuesday announcing the names of three people running with them on a slate for the five officer positions in the club’s Nov. 18 election.

Garcia, the club’s current president, announced last month he’s running for vice president for legislative and political affairs, a post currently held by Peoples. Peoples, in turn, announced she’s running for president.

In the statement released on Tuesday, Garcia and Peoples said Vietnamese-American “queer community organizer, advocate and poet” Diana Bui will run on their slate for the position of vice president for administration; local transgender activist Bobbi Strang, who has worked with the D.C. Trans Coalition and Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), will run for secretary; and local gay activist Terrance Laney, a former special assistant for the LGBT advocacy organization National Black Justice Coalition, will run on the slate for Stein Club treasurer.

Peoples is being challenged in the race for president by veteran D.C. transgender activist and longtime Stein Club member Jeri Hughes. Bui will be running for the vice president for administration post against Jimmie Luthuli, who currently serves as the club’s secretary. Luthuli told the Blade she is backing Hughes for president.

No candidates have surfaced so far to challenge Garcia, Strang or Laney. The club members currently holding the secretary and treasurer’s positions being sought by Strange and Laney are not running for re-election.

“I could not be happier with the talent and experience represented on our slate,” Peoples said in the statement. “The club’s membership is full of diverse backgrounds and perspectives; Diana, Terrance, and Bobbi are a tribute to that diversity.”

Luthuli, a public policy analyst, said she and Hughes would bring years of experience and involvement in the LGBT community to their positions as president and vice president for administration.

“Jeri and I will be asking members of the club to support us,” she said.

06
Nov
2013

‘Incumbent’ slate wins Stein Club elections

Angela Peoples, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade

Angela Peoples won election as the Stein Club’s president Monday night in a hotly contested race. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club’s vice president for legislative and political affairs, Angela Peoples, won election as the club’s president Monday night in a hotly contested race against transgender activist and longtime club member Jeri Hughes.

Peoples ran on a slate that she and Stein Club President Martin Garcia organized after the two decided to swap positions, with Garcia stepping down as president to run for the vice presidential position currently held by Peoples.

Peoples won by a vote of 49 to 24. Garcia ran unopposed and was declared the winner of the vice president’s position by acclamation.

Stein Club members supporting both Peoples and Hughes said both candidates were well qualified to serve as president but a majority chose Peoples as part of a new, younger leadership team that won control of the club in its 2012 election on a platform of reinvigorating the organization by aggressively building a larger, more diverse membership.

“This year we saw a lot of energy and enthusiasm and I think we’re going to carry that into 2014,” Peoples said after the election results were announced. “We’re going to continue to raise money, we’re going to reach out and hold candidates accountable to move our community and our issues forward,” she said, referring to next year’s D.C. mayoral and City Council elections.

“The Stein Club will be fine,” Hughes told the Blade in a statement after the election. “It was a fair election. I truly appreciate the support that I received.”

The Stein Club, which celebrated its 37th anniversary in October, is the city’s largest LGBT political organization.

Peoples and Garcia earlier this month invited three new members of the club — Diana Bui, Terrance Laney and Bobbie Strang — to join their slate of candidates for vice president for administration, treasurer and secretary respectively. Laney and Strang won in uncontested races after incumbent treasurer Barrie Daneker chose not to run for re-election and incumbent secretary Jimmie Luthuli ran for vice president for administration.

Shortly after Luthuli announced her intent to run for the vice presidential post Bui entered the race for the position as a member of the Garcia-Peoples slate.

During a candidate discussion period on Monday, Bui described herself as a “Vietnamese-American queer” who has worked in the fields of public relations, media and social justice advocacy. She said she would become a “fearless” advocate for LGBT equality if elected to the position.

Luthuli, who was not part of the Garcia-Peoples slate in the 2012 club election, said her status as a longtime club member and LGBT rights advocate would bring continuity and more experience to the club’s leadership team.

Bui beat Luthuli in the race for the vice president for administration post by a vote of 40 to 31.

Biographical information on members of their slate released by Garcia and Peoples says Bui serves as co-chair of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum D.C. Chapter. She also heads the immigration advocacy work for the Asian Pacific Labor Alliance in the role of membership and chapter coordinator, according to the biographical information.

Laney, the club’s treasurer-elect, recently worked on the successful marriage equality campaign in Rhode Island and previously served as special assistant to the CEO at the LGBT advocacy group National Black Justice Coalition.

Strang, who will assume her duties as Stein secretary in January, has been active with the D.C. Trans Coalition, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), and the D.C. Center, information released by the club says. It says she has also worked at the D.C. Office of Latino Affairs and currently works as the first openly transgender employee at the D.C. Department of Employment Services.

Monday night’s election came just under a year after Garcia, Peoples and Villano organized a successful challenge to a slate organized by then-Stein Club President Lateefah Williams, resulting in the ouster of the club’s established leadership.

Supporters credited Garcia, a political consultant, with helping to recruit as many as 50 new members in December 2012 to back his slate, prompting Hughes and other longtime members of the club to complain that the new group “stacked” the election.

But Garcia and others, including many of the club’s longtime members, acknowledged that signing up new members immediately prior and up to the time of the election meeting was permitted under the club’s bylaws.

Earlier this year the club voted to change the bylaws to require that people be members of the club for at least 30 days to be eligible to vote in a club officers election.

Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, Bob Kuntzler, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of the Stein Club cast ballots for their 2014 leadership. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Correction: This story originally reported that the vote for president was 73-24 instead of 49-24. We regret the error.

19
Nov
2013

‘Ready for Hillary’ event draws packed house

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Democratic activist Phil Pannell (left) is among the more than 450 Hillary Clinton supporters who turned out Thursday for a ‘Ready for Hillary’ event. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

More than 450 people, including LGBT activists, turned out for D.C.’s first official rally and fundraiser Thursday night for Ready for Hillary, the independent super PAC formed earlier this year to urge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016.

As many of the attendees entered Look restaurant and lounge on the 1900 block of K St., N.W., where the event took place, they were greeted by veteran D.C. gay rights and civic activist Phil Pannell, who was among the volunteers staffing a check-in table.

“I’m really excited to be here and excited about Hillary,” said Pannell, who is among a growing number of D.C.-area LGBT activists who supported Barack Obama over Clinton in the 2008 presidential race but who are enthusiastic Clinton supporters now.

“Like so many people I know, I want to be a part of this,” Pannell said.

In keeping with their policy of encouraging support from small donors, organizers of the Ready for Hillary rally Thursday night set the admission price at $20.16.

Gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, one of Ready for Hillary’s early supporters, said that same admission price will be in place for the organization’s next event in D.C. that will target a specific LGBT audience. Called “Out and Ready for Hillary,” the event will take place Jan. 15 at the gay nightclub Town Danceboutique.

Among those working on plans for the January event is Lisa Changadveja, Ready for Hillary’s LGBT Americans director. Changadvja announced the January event at Town from the stage at the rally Thursday night.

In an interview with the Blade in November, Changadveja said she and a corps of volunteers will be setting up Ready for Hillary booths at LGBT Pride events across the country in 2014.

“We’re here to encourage her to run in 2016 because she has the grassroots support behind her and she has the LGBT community behind her if and when she decides to run,” Changadveja said.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), the first member of Congress to officially endorse Clinton for president in 2016, told the gathering Thursday night that he sees support for a Clinton candidacy growing in his home state of Ohio and all parts of the country.

“What we want this campaign to be is something that ushers in the new era of politics in the United States, that Hillary can break the logjam in Washington, D.C. and move our country forward,” he said. “And with your help she’s going to be able to do that.”

Among the LGBT activist leaders listed as members of the host committee for the January Ready for Hillary event at Town nightclub are veteran transgender advocate Dana Beyer; gay Democratic National Committee member and Center for Black Equity CEO Earl Fowlkes; gay Democratic activist Lane Hudson; Gertrude Stein Democratic Club Secretary Jimmie Luthuli; and gay restaurant manager and civic activist Dito Sevilla. Rosenstein is also a member of the host committee.

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Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) spoke at the event. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

14
Dec
2013

Stein Club prez to step down, run for veep

Martin Garcia, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade

Martin Garcia (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In a surprise development, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club President Martin Garcia has announced he will not seek re-election as president and will run instead next month for the club’s position of vice president for legislative and political affairs.

Garcia’s announcement comes nearly one year after he and a slate of candidates he recruited shook up the club’s established order by winning control of three of its five officer positions. In the process the challengers effectively wrested control of the club from its longtime leaders, including then President Lateefah Williams, who lost her re-election bid to Garcia.

“In my tenure as president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, I’ve been humbled by the LGBT leaders here in the city and proud of the work that we’ve been able to do together,” Garcia said in a statement. “We have been able to accomplish a lot in this last year and ensure that the Stein Club remains as influential in the District as it has always been,” he said.

Garcia, an account manager for a D.C.-based political consulting firm that works mostly with progressive Democratic candidates, said he decided to seek the club’s vice presidential post for legislative and political affairs so he could devote more time on the upcoming 2014 D.C. elections.

He said he is endorsing the person he would replace in the vice presidential post, Angela Peoples, in her bid to succeed him as president.

“She has shown outstanding leadership this past year…and I am excited to continue working alongside her to amplify the voice of LGBT Democrats in this city,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vincent Paolo Villano, who won election last year as vice president for administration on Garcia’s slate, has announced he will not run for re-election for that or another officer position at the club’s upcoming election on Nov. 18. And club treasurer Barrie Daneker, who was re-elected last year unopposed by the Garcia slate, also announced he’s not running again for an officer’s post.

Stein Club Secretary Jimmie Luthuli, who also won re-election last year unopposed, said at the club’s Oct. 14 meeting that she plans to run for an officer’s position but hasn’t decided which post to seek.

The vote in the club’s December 2012 election came after Garcia and his supporters recruited close to 50 mostly young LGBT activists to join the club within a week or two prior to the election, with some joining on the day of the election, so they could vote for the Garcia slate. The club has since changed its bylaws to require that people become a member for at least 30 days before being eligible to vote in a club election.

24
Oct
2013

Stein Club ready for future with new leaders

With the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club special meeting and election controversy over and the slate originally elected on Dec. 3 officially reaffirmed as the winners, the club can move to the work it is destined to do — advocate for the LGBT community of D.C.

Although the special meeting and the challenges brought forth may have raised a few eyebrows in the community and seemingly split the club into two factions, its mission was accomplished. Allowing members the opportunity to question, challenge, gain clarification and in some cases vent, the meeting was democracy in action at its best and much needed to help the club move forward.

After all, the club is a democratic organization that thrives on democratic principles. The special meeting allowed members to participate in a democratic process and gain clarity on a number of issues that raised flags of concerns.  I am sure that this will ultimately lead to a revision of the club’s bylaws, which will only help to allow the club to carry out its mission more effectively.

Additionally, the new leadership certainly has brought a lot of positive energy into the group by taking a page out of President Obama’s book and organizing to bring in a diverse group of new members who are “fired up and ready to go!” If you combine this energy with the renewed energy of the club’s existing members, 2013 and beyond is sure to bring great things for the LGBT community in Washington, D.C.

However, there is still a giant elephant in the room – the need of the new leadership to win those over who still doubt their leadership ability. No one is denying that winning over the doubters will not be an easy task. Yet, the challenges that the new leadership will face should not be used as a method of attack before they have had ample time to prove themselves. Countless organizations have had changes in leadership that may have caused a riff in the membership, but they have banned together for the good of the organization and its mission.

The Stein Club members and the community should allow the new leadership the time necessary to do exactly that, especially considering that the one thing that resonated in the special meeting was that there is still work to be done to improve the lives of those in the LGBT community. Yes, there have been great successes in the quest for equality in recent months in Washington, D.C., and across the country but you cannot rest on your laurels when all members of the community are not treated equally.

Among the work that needs to be done is reducing the number of hate crimes plaguing the LGBT community in D.C. This very important issue and others should now be the focus as we prepare to enter into 2013.

The special meeting, challenges and questions about the meeting are now in the past. That chapter has ended and it is time to move onto to a new one. In this new chapter, Martin Garcia, Angela Peoples, Vincent Villano, Barrie Daneker, and Jimmie Luthuli stand posed to lead a club with a rich history and tradition into a new era. This executive board, like those that have come before them, will continue the legacy and be staunch advocates for the LGBT community.

Membership in the organization is growing; fresh ideas are flowing and old and new members are eager to work together. We are “fired up and ready to go!” That’s what every organization wants and we have it. We need to embrace that.

I stand behind the club leadership and am ready to do whatever I can to improve the lives of my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters. Will you join me and do the same?

Jerome Hunt, Ph.D. is the outgoing vice president of administration for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and a researcher specializing in “post-racial” black leaders and the black LGBT community. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of the District of Columbia. Reach him at Jerome.r.hunt@gmail.com or on twitter @jeromehuntphd.

03
Jan
2013