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Gray wins vote but falls short of Stein Club endorsement

Tommy Wells, Vincent Orange, Vincent Gray, Jack Evans, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, endorsement forum, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray finished ahead of four rivals at the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club’s mayoral candidates forum. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray finished far ahead of four of his rivals at the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club’s mayoral candidates forum Thursday night but fell four votes short of the 60 percent threshold needed to win the club’s endorsement.

Gray beat D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), his closest rival, by a margin of 58 percent (112 votes) to 38 percent (74 votes) in a runoff ballot, with 4 percent voting for no endorsement.

“I am so happy about the number of people that came out and supported us tonight,” Gray said after the vote. “It really is an affirmation of our record and we’ll continue to do the things that got us here tonight.”

In a first ballot vote, Gray came in first with 115 votes, ahead of Evans, who received 56 votes. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) came in third with 28 votes, just ahead of Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who captured 26 votes. Council member Vincent Orange (D-At-Large) finished fifth with 8 votes. One person voted for no endorsement.

Under club rules, members have the option of holding a run-off vote between the top two vote getters in the first vote if no one obtains the 60 percent margin needed for an endorsement.

Paul Strauss, Pete Ross, U.S. Senate, District of Columbia, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, endorsement forum, gay news, Washington Blade

Paul Strauss (left) and Pete Ross at the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club’s endorsement forum. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In a separate endorsement vote on the contest for the city’s shadow U.S. Senate seat, challenger Pete Ross beat incumbent Paul Strauss by a vote of 93 to 85, with 33 people voting for no endorsement. Similar to the mayoral race, Ross failed to win the endorsement by falling 33 votes short of the 60 percent threshold needed for an endorsement.

Meanwhile, in a development that surprised some Stein Club members, mayoral contenders Andy Shallal and Carlos Allen were disqualified from participating in the forum because they didn’t return a candidate questionnaire that the club requires as a condition for being eligible for an endorsement. The two didn’t attend the event.

Democratic mayoral contender Reta Lewis returned the questionnaire but no one placed her name in nomination at Thursday night’s forum as part of another requirement for endorsement eligibility, according to Martin Garcia, the club’s vice president for political and governmental affairs. Garcia said Lewis also didn’t attend the event.

About 300 people, including D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), turned out to watch the forum, which was held at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington at 474 Ridge St., N.W.

Mendelson and Bonds are running for re-election. Last week the Stein Club endorsed Mendelson but didn’t endorse in the at-large race in which Bonds and three other candidates are running in the April 1 Democratic primary because no one received the required 60 percent of the vote from the club’s membership.

Voting at Thursday’s endorsement forum took place after the participating candidates gave opening remarks and answered questions from the audience, which were submitted on index cards and read by Stein Club member Earl Fowlkes, who served as moderator.

Each expressed strong support for LGBT rights and each has a record of support for LGBT-related issues since the time they won election to the Council, with some, including Gray, pointing to their support for LGBT equality in previous jobs in government or in the private sector.

Evans, who has been on the Council for 23 years, brought with him a stack of 32 LGBT-related bills he said he introduced and helped pass during his tenure on the Council.

“I was the first elected official to support marriage equality at a time when no one was there,” he said.

Gray cited the LGBT-related initiatives he has put into effect since becoming mayor, including a first-of-its-kind transgender job training program. His LGBT supporters, who turned out in large numbers at the forum, have called him the nation’s strongest LGBT-supportive mayor.

“I’m proud to have stood up for what is right in the District of Columbia on behalf of the people who are LGBTQ in the District of Columbia,” he said. “I am proud to have led the fight on the Council of the District of Columbia to be able to approve marriage equality,” he said, referring to his role as chair of the Council in 2009 when the marriage bill came up.

Wells acknowledged that Evans, in his long tenure on the Council, and Gray, in his many LGBT-related initiatives as mayor, have done a lot for the LGBT community. Noting that his record and commitment to LGBT issues is also strong, he suggested that LGBT voters should consider turning their attention to issues such as ethics in government, that impact everyone.

“I am so proud of what we’ve done together to make this a fairer, just city for everyone,” Wells said. “Let me say that everyone on the dais has been part of that,” he said. “Your fight is my fight.”

Bowser said she is proud to have won the club’s endorsement in the past when running for her Ward 4 Council seat.

“I think Tommy is right,” she said. “There have been a lot of people who have worked long and hard so that all the institutions of the District of Columbia are equal.  Because of their hard work we’re talking about marriage equality tonight.”

Bowser, among other things, cited her role as co-introducer of a bill approved by the Council earlier this year calling for services for LGBT homeless youth.

Orange pointed to his role as a committee chair to help push through a bill introduced by gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham to add protections for transgender people in the city’s Human Rights Act.

In keeping with the club’s longstanding format for endorsement forums, the candidates were asked to leave the main hall where the event took place at the conclusion of the forum to give club members a chance to speak among themselves on who they support for the endorsement.

Among those speaking on behalf of Bowser was her gay brother, Marvin Bowser.

“Muriel has been up front in support of all of the LGBTQ issues in her campaign, including marriage equality, the anti-bullying law, and the homeless youth bill,” he said. “She’s about supporting the diversity and the vitality of the city,” he said. “She’s fully engaged in all the issues important to that.”

Martin Garcia, Angela Peoples, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, endorsement forum, gay news, Washington Blade

Stein Club Vice President for Legislative and Political Affairs Martin Garcia (left) and President Angela Peoples. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Stein Club President Angela Peoples said that while she’s disappointed that the club was unable to make an endorsement in the mayor’s race, along with the shadow Senate seat and several Council races, the endorsement forum has been beneficial to LGBT voters.

“I’m really proud and humbled and excited to see so much energy from the entire LGBT community,” she said. “The turnout at this event really shows that our LGBT community is diverse. We have straight allies. We have transgender leadership in our organization. We have people who have been here for a long time and also people who are new and excited.”

Peoples said the strong support that all of the candidates have expressed for LGBT equality was a testament to the strength of the LGBT community.

07
Mar
2014

Gray says D.C. should recognize Utah marriages

Vincent Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray told a meeting of the Stein Club that the city should recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah before the Supreme Court issued a stay and halted the weddings. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray told a meeting of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club Monday night that he believes the city should recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah.

Gray said he would consult with D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan on the matter. But he said he sees no reason why the city shouldn’t recognize the Utah marriages performed prior to a Supreme Court decision putting same-sex nuptials on hold in the state until the courts resolve the issue.

“I’ll talk to Irv Nathan about it,” Gray said. “But my position would be unequivocally that we ought to do that.”

Gray’s statement on the Utah marriage issue came in response to a question by Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance President Rick Rosendall.

Gray’s response came three days after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Jan. 10 that the federal government would recognize the Utah same-sex marriages. On that same day, Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler told the Blade that Maryland would also recognize the Utah same-sex marriages.

A spokesperson for Nathan told the Blade on Monday that Nathan and his legal team were reviewing the Utah marriage question and would likely develop a position for the District to take on the matter shortly.

A U.S. District Court Judge in Utah startled the state’s conservative political establishment on Dec. 20 when he ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution and refused to put a stay on his ruling while state officials appealed his decision. The Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals also refused to place a stay on the right of gay and lesbian couples to obtain marriage licenses in the state.

During the period between the District Court judge’s Dec. 20 ruling and the Supreme Court’s decision to issue the stay on Jan. 6, more than 1,300 gay and lesbian couples married in Utah. Utah’s Republican governor, Gary Herbert, responded to the Supreme Court stay order by declaring the same-sex marriages invalid.

Gay rights attorneys quickly disputed Herbert’s assertion, saying the marriages were performed at a time when the District Court ruled they were legal under the federal Constitution.

Stein Club President Angela Peoples said the club invited Gray to speak before its regularly scheduled monthly meeting Monday night as part of a series of appearances the club has arranged for mayoral and City Council candidates competing in the city’s April 1 Democratic primary.

She said other mayoral candidates, including City Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 1), Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) have already appeared before the club.

Others who spoke at the Stein Club meeting on Monday were Council members Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who’s running for re-election; Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), who is also up for re-election; and Vincent Orange (D-At-Large), who is running for mayor.  Also speaking was shadow U.S. House member Nate Bennett-Fleming, who is one of four candidates running against Bonds, and Shadow U.S. Senator Paul Strauss, who is running for re-election.

Gray, who spoke for about 20 minutes before answering questions from club members, acknowledged that several of the eight candidates challenging him in the primary have strong records of support on LGBT issues.

“But the fact of the matter is I’m the only one who’s actually been in the seat where you really implement and have the ability to influence policy as the mayor,” he said. “And as a result, while I think they have done some good things, I don’t think they have come near matching what I have done and I don’t think they will.”

Gray said his support for the LGBT community dates back to his days as a student at D.C.’s Dunbar High School when he observed firsthand how his class valedictorian, who was gay and later realized he was transgender, was subjected to hostility.

“It was painful to me watching what he had to go through, what he had to endure as a human being,” Gray said. “And I said to myself if I ever had the chance I’m going to do something to be able to ensure equality for people who should have the opportunity to be themselves.”

Years later, when he was chair of the D.C. Council at the time the city’s same-sex marriage law came up for a vote in 2009, Gray said he experienced hostility and rejection from same-sex marriage opponents in response to his support for marriage equality.

“Frankly, what I went through as chairman nobody hopefully will ever have to go through,” he told Stein Club members. “I had people screaming at me. There were some ministers that supported me for Ward 7 Council member and then for Chair. And they don’t speak to me anymore,” he said.

“And I said fine. If that’s the way you want to row, that’s all right with me. I know who I am. I know what I stand for and I am not flinching. I am not blinking. This is the right thing to do and we’re going to continue to do the right thing in the District of Columbia. And you all let me know when you get on board, OK?”

The latter comment drew applause from club members, many of whom are supporting Gray’s re-election.

The Stein Club’s former president and current vice president for political affairs, Martin Garcia, announced at the meeting that the club will hold a joint candidate forum and endorsement meeting for City Council candidates on Feb. 26 and a combined mayoral candidate forum and endorsement meeting on March 5.

Garcia said the club has yet to decide whether to make endorsements in other races, including  the congressional delegate seat current held by Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton; the races for “shadow” U.S. senator and U.S. representative; and Advisory Neighborhood Commission races.

14
Jan
2014

Norton, Cheh win Stein endorsement

Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mary Cheh, United States House of Representatives, District of Columbia Council, Democratic Party, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade

The Stein Club voted to endorse the re-election races of D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) (on left) and D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3). (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political organization, voted unanimously on Tuesday night to endorse the re-election races of D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3).

The club also voted unanimously to endorse Democrat Franklin Garcia in his race for the city’s shadow U.S. House seat.

All three are running unopposed in the city’s April 1 Democratic primary. Norton and Cheh are longtime supporters of the LGBT community. Norton faces opposition in the November general election from Republican, Statehood-Green Party, and Libertarian Party candidates but is considered the strong favorite to win the election.

Cheh and Garcia are being challenged in the general election by Libertarian Party candidates. Cheh is viewed as the odds-on favorite to beat lesser-known Libertarian Ryan Sabot.

Garcia, a member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee and an LGBT rights supporter, is being challenged in November by gay Libertarian candidate Martin Moulton, who is expected to reach out for support in the LGBT community.

The Stein Club has scheduled an endorsement meeting and forum for City Council candidates running in the Democratic Primary for 7 p.m., Feb. 26, at the Unity Church of Washington at 1225 R St., N.W. The club will hold a mayoral candidates forum at 7 p.m. on March 6 at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington at 474 Ridge St., N.W.

Stein Club Vice President Martin Garcia said that depending on time constraints, the club would listen to candidates running for the city’s shadow U.S. Senate seat and vote on an endorsement in that race either during the mayoral forum on March 6 or during the club’s regular meeting the following week on March 10.

12
Feb
2014

Mayor, 5 Council members attend Stein Club awards

Angela Peoples, Rod Snyder, Martin Garcia, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade

The Stein Club marked its 37th anniversary last weekend. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and five members of the City Council, three of whom are running for mayor, turned out for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club’s annual awards reception and fundraiser on Sept. 28, at the Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar on Capitol Hill.

The event marked the 37th anniversary of the founding of the Stein Club, the city’s largest LGBT political organization.

Those named as recipients the club’s recognition for service to the LGBT community were LGBT Youth Pride Alliance Leader Nikisha Carpenter; D.C. Trans Coalition organizer Andy Bowen; and former D.C. Young Democrats President Toby Quaranta. The club also presented an award of recognition to the D.C.-based group TransLAW, which serves as a legal clinic providing assistance to the transgender community.

The Council members attending the event included Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Evans, Bowser, and Wells have announced they are candidates for mayor in the April 1, 2014 Democratic primary.

The three have a strong record of support on LGBT rights issues as does Gray. Each voted for the city’s same-sex marriage law in 2009. Gray served as Council Chair at the time the marriage equality bill came up for a vote. Gray’s supporters in the LGBT community consider him to be the most LGBT-supportive politician to serve as D.C. mayor.

Gray has yet to say whether he will run for re-election for a second term. Some Stein Club members say they will have a hard time choosing among friends in the mayoral race.

Others have said LGBT voters, like other city residents, will likely choose a mayoral candidate based on non-LGBT issues.

04
Oct
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

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

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

Local activists reflect on Obama inauguration

The Washington Blade invited prominent LGBT activists in the D.C. area to share their personal thoughts about President Barack Obama’s second inauguration by answering this question:

“What is the significance of President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 21, 2013, as you see it, and what are your hopes for his second term as president?”

 

Martin Garcia, John Klenert, Sterling Washington, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, Martin Garcia, John Klenert and Sterling Washington (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

The Latino GLBT History Project looks forward to the historic second inauguration of President Barack Obama, featuring the first-ever Latino and immigrant Inaugural Poet — Gay Cuban American Richard Blanco.

Obama’s re-election is an important turning point for America. Millions went to the polls last November knowing they were going to vote for a leader who believes in marriage equality and ordered his administration not to defend parts of DOMA, issued orders to keep DREAM Act students and foreign partners in bi-national same-sex relationships from being prioritized in deportations, and signed into law the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and hate crimes legislation.

His actions helped move public opinion in support of equality.

This inauguration is special for many of us who have worked hard for our civil rights advances that have materialized with this administration.   Mainstream America symbolically endorsed our movement by awarding a second term to a leader who is ready to sign into law Comprehensive Immigration Reform, a fully-inclusive Employee Non Discrimination Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act that invalidates DOMA.

From reauthorizing Ryan White Act to helping low-income HIV/AIDS patients access medication, to filming an “It Gets Better” video to prevent LGBT youth suicide, to hosting LGBT leaders at the White House every Pride Month, to appointing more than 250 LGBT Americans to his administration, this president has rightfully earned a spot in our LGBT history timeline. He and first lady Michelle Obama care about our families. LHP looks forward to the next four years.

David M. Pérez

President

Latino GLBT History Project

This weekend is a time to celebrate! Our country solidly re-elected a marriage-equality-do-ask-do-tell president of color and this is historic and good! Hurrah.

As we look to what Obama’s second term can bring, we look to how the stunning progress on our issues happened during the first term. And the answer is organizing. My hopes for the second term are high because I’m ‘high’ on our community’s sophisticated, disciplined, hard-working, creative, inclusive LGBTQ groups.

Our organizations are at the table – in states, in cities, in election strategy sessions, and in meetings at the White House. We are coalition partners with labor, with public action organizations, with religious organizations. We have a history with working with progressive groups on health care so as the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) gets implemented, we’ll be there representing our community’s needs.

Social Security – we’re there talking about the needs of our elders and the need to protect this successful, critical program. The economy – so important especially to lesbians (on average women still make less than men), and to the trans community, which has an unconscionable unemployment rate – a healthy economy that gives everyone a fair shot at a good job is critical to our community.

We as a community are positioned to have another amazing four years of progress, IF we continue to organize and to build coalitions and alliances.

So, dear queer community, re-up your memberships, join another organization or two or three, give time, give money. Seize. This. Moment.

Barbara Helmick

Lesbian feminist, Democratic activist

The inauguration is a chance to celebrate the re-election of the first black president of the United States. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the progress we’ve made while recognizing the serious challenges that lay ahead.

Barack Obama made history by publicly announcing his support for marriage equality, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and appointing a record number of openly LGBT administration officials.

President Obama’s victory, for me, meant that we are one giant step closer to realizing his vision of a more compassionate, generous and tolerant America. It provides us a chance to hold him accountable and gives Obama the opportunity to lead and continue pushing the envelope.

In Obama’s second term, I expect bold, visionary and transformative action.

People of color, women, youth & members of the LGBT community went from being the Rising American Electorate to THE electorate. We are committed to breaking down silos, being more proactive and staying grounded in our collective struggle for justice and equality.

Whether addressing the economy, immigration, gun violence or any other issue, we expect the president to not only be a supporter of our issues and communities, but to be a champion for them.

Gregory A. Cendana

Executive Director

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance-AFL-CIO

The inauguration is a time for LGBT Democrats to celebrate all the hard work they put into re-electing President Barack Obama. It gives us a chance to reflect on the significant impact that the election has on DC, the LGBT community and our entire country.

Electing then re-electing our nation’s first black president is historic itself, especially as we pay tribute to Martin Luther King’s dream of justice. To add to that a president who unquestionably supports LGBT equality marks a path toward a future that brings us all a little closer to Martin Luther King’s vision.

Personally, re-electing President Obama, sending six LGB identified lawmakers to Congress and electing our first United States senator, Tammy Baldwin, fills me with joy and hope for our country. It shows that conversations about our lives are much more meaningful than smear attacks by corporate Super PACs.

While Barack Obama is the most pro-equality president in history, there is still much to be done by this administration and Congress. President Obama’s second term gives voters and our community a chance to push us even further toward equality. We must hold the president accountable and encourage him to champion our issues like comprehensive immigration reform, and lead this country with the passion and vigor we first saw from him in 2008.

Martin Garcia

President

Gertrude Stein Democratic Club

What is so significant about this inauguration? In our nation’s history, certain second-term presidents confirm that a major cultural shift or realignment of the electorate has occurred — Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Reagan and now Barack Obama can be added to that list as America transitions to a majority minority populace. (I am not saying that President Obama is in the same league as those mentioned. It is far too early to see how history judges him.)

There are three areas of second-term hopes: international, national and local. In the foreign arena, in no particular order: details of the Middle East wars, the Arab Spring, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries will need a steady long term, non-Fox approach to our mutual security. In the Far East, our Pacific attentions with China’s continued rise in military, space and economic strength and the challenges on how to deal successfully with a mad North Korea will keep both State and Defense Departments busy. In our own hemisphere, it is long overdue that we admit our 50-year approach to Cuba needs some serious rethinking.

National wishes include the successful implementation of the health care program, slow and steady economic growth, a national voter registration program, an immigration program that both parties can agree to without building embarrassing walls against our Mexican neighbors, acceptable gun control programs that keep both hunters and school children safe, ENDA passage, more than just one openly LGBT ambassador and/or Cabinet member and federal judges at all levels, DADT transgender inclusion, and a carefully managed DOD downsizing.

Locally, hope that the president will finally speak up about the lack of true congressional D.C. representation. We must noisily demand what is only our American birthright: representation in our legislative body. While dining out at our restaurants is certainly appreciated, it’s time for the White House to speak out forcefully on this unsettled civil rights issue.

So, good luck, Mr. President! May the next two to three years bring the successes that all Americans want and deserve.

John Klenert

Gay Democratic and D.C. voting rights advocate

It is very fitting that President Obama’s second inauguration falls on the national holiday celebrating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Besides his historic place as the nation’s first African-American commander-in-chief, President Obama is also the most pro-LGBT individual thus far to hold the nation’s highest office. I see clear correlations between the philosophy of Dr. King and President Obama’s commitment to fairness and equality for all Americans.

My hopes for his second term are that the nation will continue on the road to economic recovery, that the unemployment rate continues to fall, that the debt ceiling is raised enough to keep the nation from defaulting on its obligations, and that effective environmental and gun control measures are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. I would also like to see an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

Likewise, seeing the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act become the law of the land is high on my list. With the possibility of at least one Supreme Court justice retiring in the next four years, I hope the president can appoint another LGBT-supportive justice to the high court.

Sterling Washington

Director

Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs

18
Jan
2013