Do You Believe Stonewall Democrats Are Relevant to Political Discourse?

Stonewall Democrats – national – is in dire straights financially. This is deplorable. I don’t agree with their positions on all things, but I agree very much with this particular statement:

In far too many places, the Democratic Party structures at the state and local level maintain a less than hospitable attitude toward LGBT equality and they are holding us back. In places where there are few openly LGBT elected officials and/or party leaders, stagnation and intransigence has taken hold.

Take a look around and see for yourself that Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania are among these areas.

  • In the past 6 years, Democrats have voted or expressed support for a “marriage protection” amendment and many of them are from our region.
  • We have one Democrat in the US House of Representatives from all of Western Pennsylvania.
  • Soon to be former Congressman Mark Critz – D voted against every single LGBT piece of legislation. His successor is a Tea Party Republican so that won’t change.
  • Pittsburgh did not even register on the Municipal Equality Rankings of the Human Rights Campaign.
  • IMHO, there’s a witchhunt against openly gay City Councilor Bruce Kraus.
  • City Councilor Ricky Burgess continues to refuse to support Pittsburgh PrideFest because he thinks its too sexualized. Well, I don’t believe that rationalization for a minute – he’s acting from homophobia. That’s a serious problem.
  • It took until 2012 for Allegheny County employees to be offered domestic partner benefits and it could be years before that’s negotiated with each union.
  • In the City of Pittsburgh, the Firefighters and Paramedic unions do not offer domestic partner benefits even though they’ve been available for nearly 20 years.
  • and more
Yes, good things have happened, but the above list is reason why we need to maintain a strong independent voice in the Democratic Party. I urge you to consider a modest donation.

For Immediate Release

View Online: http://lgbtde.ms/11ErkEM

December 5, 2012

Contact: Jerame Davis

202-625-1382 or 317-213-4148

jdavis@stonewalldemocrats.org

National Stonewall Democrats Facing Serious Budget Gap; May Be Forced to Close Doors

Today, National Stonewall Democrats sent an email to their members and supporters detailing a more than $30,000 budget gap for the year and the danger that the deficit may force the organization to close its doors. The text of the email, authored by NSD Executive Director Jerame Davis, is included below. Mr. Davis is available for comment as well at 317-213-4148 orjdavis@stonewalldemocrats.org

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Friend,

This has been an amazing year, hasn’t it? A record number of LGBT people were elected to Congress as well as state and local positions. The first lesbian US Senator, the first bisexual, and the first gay person of color in Congress were all major milestones on our journey toward full equality. The biggest milestone, of course, was the reelection of President Obama – the first president to support full marriage equality.

National Stonewall Democrats has been at the forefront of these advances since 1998 when Congressman Barney Frank and LGBT activists founded our organization. Since that time, we’ve helped lead the Democratic Party to support for full LGBT equality – including the freedom to marry – culminating in a record 550 LGBT delegates at this year’s Democratic National Convention. It has truly been a banner year for the LGBT community.

We Must Bridge the Gap

At this point in our organization’s history, however, National Stonewall Democrats is facing one of the biggest challenges to date. It’s no secret that we’ve struggled with fundraising over the past few years, but today we are at a crossroads and we’re turning to you – our members and supporters.

For the second year in a row, our income has not met expectations. In 2011, we were able to offset the downturn by cutting costs – staff, services, programs; we cut everything to the bare essentials. We saw an uptick in funding at the beginning of 2012 as our renewed messaging and mission focus invigorated new and former donors, but as the campaigns heated up, donors were pulled in many directions and we felt the impact.

As the year closes, we’re facing a budget deficit of over $30,000 and if we do not bridge this gap, we will likely be forced to close our doors.

We didn’t come to this conclusion lightly or quickly. When the board appointed me as executive director a year ago, we took a long, hard look at the entire organization and we realized that, although the political landscape had changed dramatically since our founding in 1998, our organization hadn’t changed much. We set out to fix that.

In addition to trimming our budget to the essentials, we revisited our mission and purpose and we have great plans for the future. We retooled our messaging to be more bold and direct. We rekindled old partnerships and started building new ones to expand our coalition of pro-LGBT allies. We re-engaged with our chapters and helped start new ones in places where none had previously existed. Even with reduced staffing and funding, we have had a year full of progress.

Our Work is Essential

National Stonewall Democrats has a unique position in our movement as an integral part of the Democratic Party’s social justice coalition. In order to fulfill that role, the nature of our work must change to adapt to the political realities we face. Our success in traditionally progressive states – the “blue states” – has led us to many victories, but the less progressive states – the “red states” – have lagged behind.

In far too many places, the Democratic Party structures at the state and local level maintain a less than hospitable attitude toward LGBT equality and they are holding us back. In places where there are few openly LGBT elected officials and/or party leaders, stagnation and intransigence has taken hold. These “red states” are where Stonewall Democrats are needed most and can have the most impact.

Our goals are simple:

  • Expand into the 22 states where there are no Stonewall Democrats affiliates while growing our existing membership
  • Grow the ranks of pro-equality Democrats in elected and appointed positions by recruiting, positioning, and supporting LGBT leaders who run for elective office or who seek appointments within the Democratic Party
  • Assist new leaders to be effective organizers and operatives through training, coaching, and leveraging our network in support of their efforts
All of this work will revolve around three essential core functions for which we are uniquely qualified and positioned to carry out:
  • Communications – Developing and disseminating strong messaging and communications in support of pro-equality Democrats
  • Advocacy – Lobbying, educating, and advising Democrats regarding issues important to LGBT people and holding the Party and its members accountable to the ideals laid out in the party platform
  • Coalition Building – continuing to build and strengthen our relationships with other Democratic Party constituencies, such as labor, immigration, and women

Our Future is Up to YouWe will never be a huge multi-million dollar organization – and we don’t need to be – but we do need the resources to complete this important work.

That’s where you come in. If everyone receiving this email contributed just $5, we could retire our debt and have a nice cushion going into the new year. If everyone gave $10, we could pay off the debt and have nearly 3/4 of our 2013 operating budget covered too.

You have stepped up in the past and we’re asking you to do so again. Please show your support by contributing any amount you can today – $5, $50, $500, even $5000. Every penny counts.

The decision on whether or not National Stonewall Democrats continues operations is in your hands.

Thank you for all you do and have done for Stonewall Democrats.

Jerame
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National Stonewall Democrats is the national voice of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied Democrats, with more than 80 local affiliates across the nation. Stonewall Democrats works to elect more pro-equality Democrats regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – and to improve the Democratic Party on issues important to LGBT Democrats.

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