Gay Democratic National Committee official Raymond Buckley said about two dozen mostly LGBT Democratic Party leaders and activists decided in an informal meeting in January and a subsequent conference call to resurrect the National Stonewall Democrats.
The LGBT Democratic organization ceased operating in December after it was unable to close a $30,000 budget shortfall. The shutdown came as some LGBT Democrats questioned whether the group was still needed at a time when the Democratic Party has shown unprecedented support for LGBT equality.
â€śWe have informally met and we have decided that we are going to continue the Stonewall organization,â€ť Buckley told the Blade.
â€śWeâ€™re not ready to make any announcements yet on exactly how itâ€™s going to come about and who is going to be the leadership,â€ť he said. â€śBut there will be a National Stonewall Democrats organization in the near future.â€ť
Buckley, a DNC vice chair, serves as one of the DNCâ€™s nine officers in his role as chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and head of the DNCâ€™s State Chairs Association.
Gay corporate CEO and philanthropist Henry Munoz of San Antonio, Texas, last month joined Buckley and gay DNC treasurer Andrew Tobias as the third out gay member to serve as a DNC officer.
At its winter meeting in Washington last month during the week of President Obamaâ€™s inauguration, the DNC elected Munoz by unanimous vote as the Democratic Partyâ€™s national finance chair, making him the partyâ€™s chief fundraiser. He was said to have been favored for the post by President Obama.
Munoz, who is CEO of the San Antonio firm Kell Munoz Architects, Inc., becomes the first Latino as well as the first out gay to hold the post of finance chair. According to the San Antonio Express-News, he helped raise a reported $30 million for Obamaâ€™s re-election campaign as part of a group of Latino leaders backing the president.
Although his role as the first Latino to hold the position was widely reported in the media, most news stories reporting his election did not mention that he’s gay.
With the National Stonewall Democrats expected to be sidelined for at least part of this year, some LGBT Democratic activists were hoping that the DNCâ€™s outreach director, Jeff Marootian, and the partyâ€™s LGBT Caucus would take on some of the functions performed by National Stonewall Democrats, such as coordinating efforts of local LGBT Democratic clubs throughout the country.
Gay Democratic activist Kurt Vorndran, former president of D.C.â€™s Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, has called on the DNC to refrain from downsizing its LGBT outreach operation this year. The DNC traditionally has reduced its staff and curtailed some of its field operations in the year following a presidential election, when electoral politics slows down.
â€śMy personal opinion is we need an LGBT desk at the DNC, even in non-election years,â€ť Vorndran said. â€śI donâ€™t think they should shut down the LGBT operation in non-election years as they have in the past.â€ť
Rebecca Chalif, the DNCâ€™s deputy press secretary, released a statement to the Blade on Wednesday saying Marootian would continue in his role as the DNCâ€™s LGBT outreach person but didnâ€™t say whether he would carry out that function full-time.
â€śThe president has demonstrated repeatedly his commitment to the LGBT community, and as the DNC reorganizes post-election the LGBT community will continue to be a high priority for the DNC as it has been,â€ť she said in the statement.
â€śIn the meantime, Jeff Marootian will continue serving as the LGBT point of contact, and we will continue to organize and work with grassroots LGBT organizations nationwide,â€ť Chalif said.
â€śJeff is still working at the DNC,â€ť Buckley told the Blade. â€śBut everyone at this point is playing two or three roles as it all works out on whoâ€™s going to have what position going into the next several years,â€ť he said.
Asked if he knew whether Marootian would remain at the LGBT outreach post, Buckley said he wasnâ€™t sure.
â€śEveryone at the DNC right now is having multiple functions because there is a significant cutback in staff. And while decisions are being made on whoâ€™s going to play what role, everyone is pitching in and doing their very best.â€ť
Neither Rick Stafford, the Minnesota gay Democratic activist who chairs the DNCâ€™s LGBT Caucus, nor Jerame Davis, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats until the time it closed shop in December, could immediately be reached for comment.
Buckley said Stafford didnâ€™t attend the DNC meeting in January and didnâ€™t participate in the conference call Buckley organized to discuss plans for bringing back National Stonewall Democrats.