Is Steel City Stonewall Diluting Its Own Endorsement?

As this group finds its footing in the party and the region, I have for the most part been impressed with the new leadership (and recent leadership). I'm particularly pleased that they have invested some resources on issues as opposed to just elections.  It is important that LGBT Democrats send a clear message to our elected officials on how we view issues and what steps we can take as a community to express our position.

That being said, I do worry that the organization “dilutes” the impact of their endorsement.  First, there has been a tradition of naming individuals to an honor roll of sorts — “Honorable Mentions” — indicating they are good on issues, but didn't receive the endorsement.  Sometimes they didn't submit a questionnairre, but the group feels they deserve consideration.  I'm just so-so with that practice.  It isn't really democratic and doesn't make the actual endorsement that valuable. 

Another example was Friday when the organization used their official email blast to inform us of an upcoming LGBT event for Hillary Clinton, the endorsed candidate.  Great.  That's a good use of resources.  A few lines down there was a listing for an Obama event.  Huh?

I'm not offended, but I am confused.  Is that organization's purpose to elect a slate of candidates selected by the members or is it to educate the general LGBT community on all Democratic candidates, information and events?  Either is fine I suppose, but trying to do both is sending people like me — members — conflicting signals.  

Here's my ultimate question — why should I turn up for an endorsement process when it doesn't carry a lot of weight?  If you are going to promote candidates who were not endorsed, either as Honorable Mentions or by promoting their events, why should I care about the endorsement?  What value does it have? 

In my opinion, the slate should be the slate. Individuals should be free, of course, to promote whomever they choose, but the origanization should focus on getting folks from the slate elected and not dilute resources on candidates who are not on the slate.  No matter what the reason.  Maybe next year, they'll fill out the questionnaire or show up at an event.  But if Steel City can mobilize the local LGBT community to have an impact on a handful of elections, they have done their job as well as sent a message about our political power.

The endorsement of Steel City should be coveted by local Dems and something they have to earn.  We shouldn't settle for anything less. 

That being said, please consider joining the organization as Ledcat and I have done.  It is a long way to November.  In practical terms, you should be deciding if Luke Ravenstahl needs to do more than show up at PrideFest to earn your endorsement. 

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  • Sue raises some valid questions and concerns here. As Chair of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats, I'd like to address some of them.
    Regarding the presidential race: SCSD membership (much less the BGLT community) is not united behind either Clinton or Obama. Clinton got 22 votes at our Endorsement event to Obama's 15. Clinton got more than the 50% + 1 required by the rules we had in place, but less than a super majority that might indicate where our organization was on this issue. In hind sight, our board realizes we should have refrained from endorsing in this divisive presidential race without a super majority, but we had already set up the process differently. So, we are moving ahead publicizing our endorsement of Clinton on our website and slate card, but we are also acknowledging the fact that many in our organization and in the larger BGLT community are supporting Obama. As politicians go, they are both pretty good on our issues. Our more important goal than supporting one candidate over the other is to engage the BGLT community and encourage involvement in the political process.
    Regarding the honorable mentions: our board decided to give honorable mentions to Jason Altmire–who didn't return a questionnaire, but who did receive write – in votes (not enough for an endorsement) at the endorsement event– and to National Convention Delegate candidates who we know to be friendly to our community. Delegate candidates did not have the opportunity to complete questionnaires and participate in our endorsement process, but our board felt like BGLT voters would benefit from guidance in selecting Delegate candidates to vote for — hence the honorable mentions.
    Please be assured that we recognize that this process was flawed. We are committed to doing better next time: We are forming an Endorsement Committee to revamp and codify our endorsement process.
    We need more people to get involved. Join. Donate or better yet, volunteer. Please contact me if you would like to serve on the Endorsement Committee or on any other committee.
    Kris Rust
    kdrust@aol.com
    http://www.steel-city.org

  • Kris,
    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I think transparency is incredibly important for a membership based organization. It is refreshing to hear leaders admit that there's room for improvement, coupled with an invitation to be part of the solution. I applaud you for that.
    Thanks for writing.
    Sue

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