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Stonewall Dems score victories at Texas Democratic Convention
By Dan Graney, QSanAntonio.com, June13, 2012

Members of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus and other LGBT delegates made history at the Texas Democratic Convention that took place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on June 7 through 9. Here is a summary of some of the major results from the convention:

- Delegates adopted a progressive state party platform that includes a plank on marriage equality and provisions calling for the support of a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the right of LGBT parents to adopt children. The platform was adopted without opposition.

- Delegates approved adding “gender identity” to the non-discrimination section of the state party rules.

- A record number of LGBT persons from Texas were elected delegates to the Democratic National Convention that will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 4-6. A total of 33 LGBT Texans – 26 delegates, 2 alternates and 5 members of national convention committees – will make up the Texas LGBT delegation. Three of the delegates are Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio members Daniel Graney, Olga Hernandez and Eduardo Juarez. This will be the first national Democratic convention for all three San Antonio delegates. The LGBT delegation also includes transgender activist Meghan Stabler from Round Rock.

- A number of openly LGBT persons, including two from conservative East Texas, were elected to the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) from their respective Senate District caucuses.

- Numerous LGBT delegates were elected from their Senate District caucuses to serve on permanent committees at the state convention, including the important platform committee. TSDC Vice President Erin Moore of Dallas, who was a member of both the temporary platform drafting committee and the permanent platform committee, was instrumental in shepherding the pro-LGBT planks through the platform process.

- TSDC's endorsed candidates for State Party Chair and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) LGBT seat both won election to their respective positions. Gilberto Hinojosa from Brownsville was elected the first Latino Chair of the Texas Democratic Party. Openly gay former State Representative Glen Maxey was elected to the DNC seat currently held by openly lesbian former Houston City Councilwoman Sue Lovell.

At its biennial Caucus meeting attended by over 300 people, the TSDC elected Eli Olivarez of McAllen its first Latino President to succeed term-limited Daniel Graney. Carol Cappa of Fort Worth was elected Vice President to succeed Erin Moore who decided not to seek re-election. Jay Narey of Dallas was elected Secretary and Shaun Nelson of Houston was re-elected Treasurer. Their terms of office will begin on July 1.

Graney and Moore were also presented Service Awards for their four years of service to the TSDC.

At a pre-convention reception hosted by the TSDC at the Hilton of the Americas Hotel, an overflow crowd of LGBT and straight delegates witnessed the presentation of three awards to straight ally and SDEC member JC Dufresne, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and outgoing State Party Chairman Boyd Richie.

Although San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gave the keynote speech at the convention, perhaps the most memorable remarks were given by Richie in his farewell speech when he said the following:

“They [the Republicans] have successfully played on peoples’ fears of things different from themselves. They’ve turned working families against each other; public against private; White against Black against Brown; straight against gay; Protestant against Catholic against Jew against Muslim --- against, against, against.

"They didn’t originate suspicion but they’ve done an excellent job of exploiting it. They’ve made us quite comfortable with our prejudices.

"As we are acutely aware, Republicans continue to use code words and symbols that demonize, scapegoat and stereotype minorities in Texas. It’s as despicable as their voter suppression schemes.

They know where to dig up the old fears and hatreds embedded in so many Texans. This prejudice is an infection of the soul and our opponents are able and willing to inflame it.
"But in this regard we must confront a sad truth. They don’t employ these dog whistles simply because they’re bigots. They do it because it works. Specifically it moves Anglo voters. Overwhelmed by the combination of hateful rhetoric and Fox News they go to the polls more to vote against us than for Republicans.

"We always quickly and firmly denounce this bigotry yet it doesn’t stop them from using the same tactics—time after time, year after year. Worse, our condemnations have little effect on Anglo voters who have bought into this trash.”

For more information about the convention, visit the TSDC's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/texasstonewall.

Dan Graney is the outgoing President of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus and a frequent contributor to QSanAntonio.